It's not a good sign when, in a movie about the trials and tribulations of teens at a performing-arts school, the most interesting characters are teachers. Part of that could be blamed on the laughably melodramatic performances by everyone under 30 in Fame, a remake of the 1980 R-rated hit.
Part of it could be blamed on the fact that the filmmakers clearly haven't zeroed in on a target audience-the new PG rating suggests it's for the High School Musical crowd, but the language and minimalistic storylines suggest it's for an older audience. Whatever the fault is, the result is that no one is going to be pleased with the 2009 version of Fame.
Like the original, we start out with a group of fresh-faced wannabe celebrities, studying for stardom in their chosen disciplines. Some are dancers, some are singers, some are musicians, and some are actors, though you'd never know it by the work they put forth here. However, unlike the original, these kids deal with nothing more troublesome than difficult parents and hunks who use their success to put the moves on them. Even when the movie does strive toward something more significant, it does so in the most contrived, borderline-offensive way. A black student lost a sibling in a drive-by and can only express his grief through rap-how deep did they have to dig for that?
So many of these characters flit across the screen, we're only given minutes to get to know each and, consequently, care about none. That said, many of the musical numbers soar, and, in an age where teenagers on reality shows become famous for doing nothing, it's nice to see talent harnessed by discipline celebrated. If you've got a budding performing artist in your life who insists on dragging you to this film, perhaps he or she can at least gain something from that.