Fame is certainly not for everyone, but folks interested in stories of struggling artists or enamored with late-1970s New York City will find plenty to enjoy here. Mind you, many of the criticisms leveled at the movie are accurate: The acting is stiff, the dialogue is unnatural, and the struggles faced by the students attending the High School of Performing Arts (where much of the movie is set) are pretty watered down. Nevertheless, the movie has a certain charm to it: It’s clearly a product of its time and it’s fascinating to watch a New York City that no longer exists, and the movie’s structure (which follows a group of high school students throughout the four years of their education) lends itself well to such an ensemble piece. In addition, the music is entertaining and effective, from the famous title track to the touching “Out Here On My Own” among others, and ostensible lead Irene Cara is blessed with buckets of charisma. It’s harder edged than you’d think (likely because of the sanitized TV show that it spawned), which adds unexpectedly compellism realism to the overall experience.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)