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“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?
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.
- What was your favorite part of “Fame”? Which character did you most identify with?
- What would you say was the best performance scene in the movie? What was the weakest part of the film?
- How does “Fame” rate against other musical high school movies of the last few years?
- Do you think you would enjoy attending a high school for the performing arts like this one? Why or why not?
- If you could really work on becoming excellent at one artistic skill, what would it be? Why?
- Do you think fame is a worthwhile goal in life? Why or why not? [Parent: Consider reading Proverbs 25:27 together. How does the idea of making our own names famous fit into the Christian life, if at all?]
- Do you think being an excellent performing artist is a worthwhile goal in life? Why or why not? [Parent: Consider emphasizing the idea that creating with excellence is a way for us to imitate our Creator and to reflect His truth and beauty to others.]
- Do you think it’s okay to want to be recognized for being excellent at something? How do we find the balance between our God-given competitive drive and living in pride and arrogance?
- One of the big ideas of movies like “Fame” is that we should hold on to and/or live for our dreams. Do you think living for our dreams is always a good goal? Why or why not?
- One of the characters in the film discovered he didn’t have the talent to achieve his dream, after all. Another discovered a whole new direction of performance she wanted to pursue. Has God ever changed your dream—or mission or goals—by bringing you to a dead end or an opportunity you’d never thought of before?
- A couple of the students had to make a choice about whether it was realistic to stay in a relationship with a boy/girlfriend and stay committed to their goal of becoming a successful performer. Do you think that would be a hard choice to make? How could someone use wisdom to decide between holding on to a high school relationship and pursuing a career that will make that relationship difficult?
- What’s one dream you would be willing to sacrifice almost everything for if it could come true for you? How hard are you willing to work to take your shot at that dream? Are you willing to have God say “no” to that dream and set your life in an unexpected direction? Why or why not?