At the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, students get specialized training that often leads to success as actors, singers, etc. This movie follows four students from the time when they audition to get into the school, through graduation. They are the brazen Coco Hernandez, shy Doris Finsecker, sensitive gay Montgomery MacNeil, and brash, abrasive Raul Garcia. Written by
Albert Hague was an actual teacher at Fiorello LaGuardia High School when he was hired almost on a whim by the producers to play Benjamin Shorofsky, a role that resurrected his acting career. See more »
When François starts talking to Coco in the café, the donut on her plate and items on the bar next to her keep moving between shots. See more »
A recent survey of children in the UK re-enforced the notion put forth by this film 27 years ago. That being more than anything else, young people want to grow up to be somebody famous. It used to be doctors and firemen that kids wanted to be. Now, everyone wants to be famous. Fame is a story of a group of kids accepted into the High School for Performing Arts in New York City. We seen them first audition, then take classes and learn about life for the next four years. The film has a lot of fine qualities, but ultimately leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied.
Alan Parker's bold directorial style fits the story pretty well. The film has been classified as a musical, but more than anything it is a drama. Musical numbers and dance routines break out here and there, and Parker keeps them as close to realistic as they really could have been filmed. The acting is for the most part top-drawer with a few exceptions. The pacing is a little off, particularly toward the end of the film, but by that point, the story has already taken a few wrong turns anyway.
First off, the auditions at the beginning of the film should have weeded a couple of the principle characters out. It seems unlikely that anyone would show up and audition for one department, then stumble their way through admissions to another. Some of these people just don't look that talented or interested to begin with. Once the first year of classes gets going, the film settles into a nice groove. The interaction between students and teachers is very well handled, and it leaves you wanting more. The film begins to lose itself later on as we see more and more of the students' lives out of school. Some of these people just aren't worth caring about.
The film's biggest mistake is making the Ralph Garcy character so prominent. This guy is a boorish; self-centered jerk. A "professional a-hole" as he proudly declares on stage during his comedy routines. The audience is supposed to somehow feel for this guy and his tragic personal situation, but I was just hoping they'd throw his butt out of school. Irene Cara, Maureen Teefy, Paul McCrane and the late Gene Anthony Ray are the people you'll care about by the time this film is over. Try as I might, I still can't develop abs like Gene Anthony Ray had in this film.
Overall this film is good. It is memorable, interesting, and full of daring scenes and performances. It runs maybe a little too long, and perhaps some of the wrong characters get fully developed while others kind of hover in the background. The musical numbers are great, and there is even a surprise or two waiting to be discovered by the time the film is over. Though not perfect, Fame will be a film that lives on in one way or another for many years to come.
7 of 10 stars.
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