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Fame

PG for thematic material including teen drinking, a sexual situation and language

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The Story

“Fame” follows 10 students at a rigorous, high-pressure high school for the performing arts as they make their way from freshman year auditions all the way through to their senior year graduation. Punctuated with musical performances, the crowded story is told in a series of vignettes from each of the students’ four years.

Jenny (Kay Panabaker), an uptight young actor, draws the attention of Marco (Asher Book), a natural and easygoing singer. Angry young actor/rapper Malik (Collins Pennie) notices that classical pianist Denise (Naturi Naughton) is secretly the best singer in the school. Victor (Walter Perez) plays keys and DJs and has eyes for gifted ballet dancer Alice (Kherington Payne).

That still leaves dancing Kevin, acting Joy, and film directing hopeful Neil to keep up with. But wait, there are also a lot of teachers played with great restraint by former sitcom stars like Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, and Charles S. Dutton.

A few students will land work before they even reach graduation. Others will discover the limits of their talent and realize they’ll never be as successful as they’d hoped. Will any of them find stardom?

Content Issues

The film landed a PG rating, but it does include some harsh language, along with uses of God’s name for swearing. Students drink, and one gets drunk for a video to “expand her life experience.” Students kiss; dancers and performers move provocatively and wear skimpy clothing.

Worldview Talking Points

Thirty years ago, the original “Fame” was nominated for a slate of music Oscars for it’s unique and memorable songs and score. It spawned a TV series or two and the idea that fame could be found by building on natural talent until you became so fantastic as a performer that the world just had to notice.

It’s an idea that almost seems quaint these days, as the number of people famous for everything but being talented continues to expand. In addition, popular shows like “American Idol” have taught us all to size up the fame-potential of performers of every level of talent and star quality.

From that perspective, this reboot of the “Fame” franchise is encouraging in that it focuses on a group of students who are actually working at being good at something, not just trying to justify themselves for the sake of praise and a big payday.

But the movie doesn’t really go far enough in showing the hard work it takes to be the best as a performer—or in dealing with the consequences of living for fame and stardom. Very few of the actors are believably driven for glory or believably talented enough to earn it.

Still, the idea of a school built to make its students better artists—and then famous ones—brings up all kinds of worldview ideas worth kicking around, especially with your stage-minded kids. We hope a few of the following questions will help.

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