The 9 Most Scathing Critical Responses to Fame

My TV, my laptop, my bus stop: Fame's cast of unknowns keep popping into my life at the most unwanted moments, like celebrity-worshiping Jehovah's Witnesses encouraging me to examine their Fame pamphlets and perhaps sign up for a "Claim Your FAME" essay writing contest while I'm at it. Then there's that ubiquitous Coca-Cola-like logo, meant to evoke $$$/power/corporate backing/whatever, and suitable, like all religious iconography, to wear around my neck and ward off evils, like anonymity or being dropped from my label. Where was I? Oh right. Fame opens tomorrow. It hasn't screened for many outlets, but the reception from those for whom it has has been overwhelmingly negative. Here's the nine ugliest reactions to emerge so far.

9. "The 2009 version is pure hell - boring, redundant and talentless. In attempting to "reinvent" the original story, screenwriters Aline Brosh McKenna and Allison Burnett offer us the plot of "High School Musical" without its charm and appealing musical beat." -- David Foucher, EDGE

8. "Nearly 30 years later, Fame - both the remake and stardom itself - is so arbitrarily dispensed that nothing about it seems credible. Rather than discovery, we sense desperation in trying to stand out among the high school musicals and saved last dances that are now clichés." -- Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times

7. "The young actors are, to a one, dull. Naturi Naughton of Notorious is an underwritten pianist who really wants to sing, Paul Iacano has the hat and the camcorder but little spark as the would-be filmmaker. Kherington Payne doesn't suggest the passion and focus of a dancer with "tick off mommy and daddy" issues. Collins Pennie makes an impression as the "angry young black man" who needs to learn there's more to acting than pouting." -- Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

6. "In the new Fame, which was directed by music video veteran (and apparent telenovela buff) Kevin Tancharoen, the dejected dance student, now a boy, still opts not to jump in front of the train. But he collapses in a heap of melodramatic sobs into the arms of his worried pals. Oh, the tragedy! Oh, the headache this movie gave me!" -- Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

5. "The new, unimproved Fame won't live forever except in DVD cutout bins, and remembering anyone's name will be a chore." -- Steve Persall, Times Film Critic

4. "The retooled version, directed by young music video wiz Kevin Tancharoen, apes "High School Musical" rather than "Mean Streets." Rated PG, it's almost laughably bland and watered-down in its desire to appeal to the widest possible audience. It won't succeed in that goal, but it has enough pizzazz to captivate undemanding tweeners." -- Stephen Farber, THR

3. "And as if to punish audiences for neglecting that terrific little comedy-with-music, [Bandslam], along comes a tedious remake of "Fame" which, like Times Square, is rather scrubbed-up and lacking in character in comparison with its 1980 counterpart." -- Alonso Duralde, MSNBC

2. "Ryan Seacrest probably spends more time on his hair than most of these wannabes seem to spend on their craft. (The most noticeable work ethic appears in these thinly drawn characters' commitment to cheesy romantic shenanigans.)" -- Matt Pais, Chicago Metromix

1. "Why bother to remake "Fame" if you don't have clue about why the 1980 movie was special? Why take a touching experience and make it into a shallow exercise? Why begin with a R-rated look at plausible kids with real problems and tame it into a PG-rated after-school special?...The new "Fame" is a sad reflection of the new Hollywood, where material is sanitized and dumbed down for a hypothetical teen market that is way too sophisticated for it." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

[Rotten Tomatoes]


  • Guy Whitey Corngood says:

    overwhelmingly negative, and yet my favorite source for reviews, the A.V. Club (sorry Movieline!) gave it a solid B. No minus attached or nothin'. And they're some of the most haterin' haters around, generally speaking.

  • bess marvin, girl detective says: “Fame” is a sad reflection of the new Hollywood, where material is sanitized and dumbed down for a hypothetical teen market that is way too sophisticated for it."
    say it again roger

  • Seth Abramovitch says:

    Don't be sorry. The A.V. Club rocks!

  • HwoodHills says:

    Any word anywhere about the tunes? New Ones or the old ones re-worked?
    "I Sing The Body Electric" was an awesome song in the original.

  • FrancoisTrueFaux says:

    If by "re-worked" you mean dropping Sam Sparro's "Black and Gold" drum beats in the new theme song, then yes the did.

  • Lowbrow says:

    Didn't anyone tell them? If you're young, you've got a mic, & you want to seize the emotion of your audience - sing about AIDS.

  • Mikey says:

    Really? What decade are you living in?

  • stolidog says:

    "The 9 Most Scathing Critical Responses to Fame"...I guess No. 10 would be Heidi Montag.

  • Lowbrow says:

    Suck a fuck.