Remember My Name (Fame!)

The trailer for the Fame remake has been released. I’m not actually a Fame fan and, after watching Rent this weekend I’ve been thinking a lot about my feelings on musical film in general, however let’s take a look, shall we?

And here’s one from the 1980s film:


My main issue is that High School Musical seems to have made musical films ‘hip’ again and producers seem to be clamouring over remaking the old stuff rather than creating new films for that audience. The issue here being Fame and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are not like High School Musical. It’s the same genre, sure, but saying that the same people who like HSM will like TRHPS is like saying people who like biscuits will also like leeks because at the end of the day it’s all food (no, I don’t think that analogy even made sense in my mind).

This new Fame (hereafter referred to as NF) looks nothing like old Fame (hereafter refered to as OF) which I’m fine with, really. I have this thing about cover versions and remakes – I don’t mind them at all – in fact I love cover versions (and I collect them) but there needs to be something about them – something different that gives it a unique take and an edge to the original.

Remakes = good, copies = bad.

An NF does look different. And, like I said, I don’t really care hugely about OF. So you think I’d be pleased, right?


I know I’m judging it just from the ad but that in itself is very telling. You have this completely bland young Hollywood-beautiful cast – none of whom seem to stick out from one another. You can’t complain about OF on that account – the cast were varied and diverse.

The characters I remember vividly are Ralph Darcy who ends up semi-successful but as a result drinks too much, this changes his personality, making him aggressive, and puts a strain of relationships with his friends. There was Coco, the annoying but determined dancer who thinks she’s going for a screen test which ends up being some guy’s attempt to make softcore porn, Montgomery who’s just discovering his sexual identity and Leroy, who’s illiterate. They all have problems and they all had strong overpowering personalities which people who are drawn to that sort of lifestyle might actually have. Nothing in the NF trailer suggests these kids are struggling to get by – there’s none of that guts and pain stuff that made OF worth watching – NF just seems ridiculously aspirational – it’s all about the dancing, the smiles, the sex. Seriously, why is everyone smiling?

The trailer looks like half a dozen other we’ve seen in recent years (Step Up, Make It Happen, and so on.), the music is poor – the OF music is iconic maybe as a result of the film and musical success as well as the fact it’s definately of it’s time and has a power behind it. NF seems to have blandified ad nauseum; again, it’s like a million other songs I heard and forgotten about before.

So, it seems, from the ad, I have decided I hate the film already. It’ll have to do a lot harder to impress me. And if this is my reaction to Fame I can only guess how I’ll feel when TRHPS starts getting developed further by MTV with Hollywood-beautiful actors and some either toning down of sexuality or flagrantly mocking it.  Bah.


EDIT (20/08/09): I wrote this post a while back and now, reading over it, I find it a bit too severe. Since then I’ve seen the ad which seems to show a bit more of the storyline and, whilst it still doesn’t look amazing, it doesn’t look all rosy peaches-and-cream either.

I am interested in the way things are remade and with Fame I imagine it to be much more about the prescint rather than the story so new characters and backgrounds but brought together at the same place (as opposed to say Psycho which seemed to be entirely the same story, characters and even dialogue but with different actors).

Because I have an Unlimited Card I might go and see it but I don’t think I would otherwise.

I find this apparent trend in remakes quite amazing, aside from this and RHPS I’ve also heard about plans to remake Drop Dead Fred and Dirty Dancing. I suppose Drop Dead Fred is the odd one out there – I don’t really get why anyone would feel the need to remake that at all – whereas the other two are clearly an attempt to bring a new audience who are demonstrating an interest in musical film to the genre – though, surely, they are just going to back and hunt out these classic examples of the genre if they have that interest?


Hey, hey… down here, guys – you should check out Lisa’s blog on the Fame trailer too…

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    You know, from something you said earlier, I’ve always considered High School Musical to be a kind of hybrid of Grease and Saved By The Bell. They started out well – I loved the songs from the first HSM movie, but the music from the second movie was utterly forgettable. Once you’re heard Breaking Free, nothing else comes close.

  2. priyabhakta

    I’ll be honest, I’ve only seen the first one and it was fine; it was what it was. But I’m not ten (this is actually hugely unfair on ten-year olds sugesting it’s an age thing – I know people my age obsessed with it) and I’m not a huge musical films fan and… like I say for a Disney made-for-TV musical it was fine. Actually as far as made-for-tv musicals go it’s probably fantastics but then the franchise grew and grew… and grew; like Twilulz, I don’t think it can live up any longer to its own hype.

    I can see what you mean about it being a hybrid – I’m pretty sure I read something early on in HSM-mania about Disney considering it their Grease-meets-Romeo-and-Juliet movie, which sounds altogether too huge for a TV movie and too ridiculous for anything else but they found a formula and it worked. But that’s HSM, not every future musical film on the face of the planet. Is it really going to work for production companies to just remake old things?

    … Or even new stuff, like you mentioned Britannia High, why do you think that bombed? Like I said, I didn’t watch it (it coincided with something else I did weekly so I couldn’t even just watch one and I hate ITV CatchUp/Silverlight) – but I remember hearing that maybe it just tried to be too ambitious and too American – I don’t know though, what do you think?

  3. Anonymous

    Leeks and biscuits, indeed. We live in a age that is obsessively and desperately straining to reanimate the glories of being in possession of a true calling…a gift…a vision…a destiny….something tangible, meaningful, and real. But we often ignore or romanticize all of the messy, ugly, and often unadmirable parts of the process that can get us there……we explain away our failure to achieve what is meaningful by continuing to uphold many false ideals. Which, if you really care to look, is actually the main theme,a very difficult and necessary confrontation with all of that false idealism, that really lies at the heart of the original film of FAME itself. The remake is similiar to bidding on an old, dusty mirror for a high price at an auction because a genius once slammed his fist into it and bled onto it while tortuously using it to attempt to paint a truthful self-portrait …you take it home after spending all that money on it because it’s recognized as a coveted and important “piece”….to only then wipe away the blood because it is now YOU in the mirror who owns it and therefore it must yield a more flattering reflection. And then, of course, it’s worthless.

  4. Lisa McGarry

    If I could write as well as you, I would have written that piece above! I agree with every word and I don’t think that you were ‘too severe’ at all.

    I hate that so many movies now are so ‘American’, ie cheesy, smooth and slick with a ridiculously optimistic ending, (no offence intended towards Americans BTW).

    In all, I am curious to see if the Fame movie will be just as awful as it looks, but not curious enough to make me shell out the price of a cinema ticket. Maybe when it drops into the 3 for £3 group in our local dvd rental store, I’ll give it a go.

    1. priyabhakta

      Thank you for the lovely comment 🙂

      I wouldn’t have gone to the film on the basis of the first ad because I think it comes across as more of an aspiring dance film than having any real story but I think the longer one looks better. And Bebe Neuwirth’s in it so it can’t be that bad, right? Right?!

      Am I correct in thinking old Fame had a happy-ish ending? Were you a big fan of the original?

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