Who's In It: Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton, Debbie Allen, Asher Book, Collins Pennie
The Basics: A bunch of really attractive kids with perfect hair and impeccably auto-tuned voices are going to sing you some songs about their dreams. It's going to be awesome. They'll have a few inconsequential problems along the way--a disapproving parent here, a missed opportunity there, an abortion... oh, wait, sorry, no, that last bit happened in the 1980 version of this movie. My mistake. But anyway, then they'll sing some more and that's the end about how they're not afraid to succeed, baring those teeth to show you they mean business. Best get out of their way.
What's The Deal: Remember when art-school dancers and singers and everyone else ran around in leg warmers? And remember when New York City was really gross and full of dirtbags and porn theaters and people with crooked teeth? And remember Irene Cara and how she took off her shirt in this 1980 movie called Fame even though she hadn't even had a boob job? Remember how it used to be that everyone didn't think getting famous was their birthright? No? Well then you're part of the Zac Efron Youth and you're who this remake is for.
Baby, I'd Remember Your Name A Little Easier If You'd Do Something Interesting: A battalion of studio Suits has clearly destroyed whatever idiosyncrasies existed in the script, which borrows a lot of plot incidents from the original but has come through the '09 car wash with zero personality intact. By the time late in the film when Whatserface breaks up with Whatshisface, you will be forgiven for thinking, "Oh, they were dating?"
Dear Grown-Up Actors, Please Step Aside While These Kids Compete In The Blandness Contest: You can tell that Megan Mullally had it written into her contract that she got to sing for at least a minute or so because she's the only adult on camera with anything to do besides give the students a little tough love in 15-second soundbites. Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth? No Frazier/Lilith scenes together. Debbie Allen? Locked in the principal's office behind a desk.
What Doesn't Suck: The cafeteria number. It's no "Hot Lunch Jam" but it's a decent update. The big finale isn't bad either. Just don't listen too closely to the narcissistic lyrics.