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Kids Watch: 'Fame'

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It's a remake of an 80s classic with talent, determination, and heart -- but also some behavior you probably don't want them to see.


Rhianwen Benner:

Just like the original 1980s cultural touchstone that inspired it, "Fame" follows the lives of a diverse group of students during their four years at the High School for the Performing Arts in New York City, beginning as insecure freshmen and ending as confident upperclassmen and professionals.

In a world where kids idolize celebrities who are "famous for being famous," it's nice to see a film focus on the hard work and discipline that goes into being a stellar performer. "Fame" makes no concessions about what it takes to be successful -- talent, sacrifice, risk, and true passion -- and the kids in the movie rise to the challenge in order to prove themselves, ultimately collaborating and supporting one another.

The performances from the talented cast are awesome fun, and are only enhanced by the seemingly real and natural relationships among the cast. There are lunch room jam sessions, dance routines, and karaoke club singalongs that just jump out and grab you. If nothing else, "Fame" may inspire your kids to stick with those piano lessons.

In the world of "Fame," adults are neither authoritarians nor bumbling fools. The teachers challenge their students, expect excellence from them, and dole out affirmation when they succeed. Some parents are generally supportive, and the students beam with pride when they impress them.

From the tight clothing and cleavage to butt and crotch shots -- not to mention a bona fide pole-dancing scene -- "Fame" is pretty racy for a PG movie. There's also some kissing strewn about, and in one scene it goes horizontal. In other words, you might wish you could cover your kids' eyes occasionally.

In one scene, a student contemplates suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. We are set up to think he's going to, but his friends pull him back in the nick of time. Not exactly an uplifting moment.

The main disappointment in the film is the complete lack of consequences. A student tells his teacher, "Screw this and screw this class," without any disciplinary action taken. Alcohol is consumed at parties and at a karaoke club when teachers are present. And when one student tells her teacher she got drunk "to expand her life experience," he laughs with her. I don't remember adults being so supportive of underage drinking when I was in high school.

Language is also an issue. Just about every curse word aside from the F-bomb is represented here, and a student shares a violent story about how his sister was shot down by gang members. How did they cram so much bad language into a PG film?

"Fame" is a fun and inspiring movie that shows kids realistically what it takes to become famous. For better or worse, it also shows kids engaging in risky behavior sans consequences. If you take your kids (I suggest 12 and up), be prepared to talk about alcohol and sex afterwards.

next: Detroit: Too Broke to Bury Their Dead
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 3, 2009, 3:06 PM

It’s just a movie. Get over it.

Sue October 3, 2009, 5:08 PM

I was never crazy about the movie but I did like the TV show.

Michelle October 11, 2009, 2:53 PM

Hey Anonymous, these reviews are supposed to be about what parents should look out for when they take their kids to movies. If you don’t care about what your kids look at, then don’t read these reviews. Some of us appreciate this though, so go away.

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