Freeheld stumbles over too many hurdles to recommend it. The film’s heart is in the right place, but its focus is not.
From Name Withheld, Los Angeles:
The movie had such a good vibe in the early stages before we actually started to shoot it. In fact, it had such good energy going on, that it was a pity it ended up being cut-up/chop-chopped and as you said, 'sanitized'. There were a lot of scenes that unfortunately did not make the final cut. These scenes showed stories about true friendship, love, passion, relationships, sexuality, disappointments and successes in detail thru character development. Though the locked version was 'tamed down' because of the PG rating, a DVD directors cut would probably show the actual stories of the 10 different characters.
It seemed that Mr. Tancharoen forgot (maybe intentionally?) that he had 10 characters to develop. It appeared that there was concentration on one, Ms. Panabaker (and how could her character pass such a rigid audition?), Mr. Book, Mr. Pennie, Ms. Naughton (who sang very well) and Ms. Payne. Whatever happened to Mr. Iacono, Mr. McGill, Ms. Perez de Tagle, Ms. Flores (what character did she portray?) and Mr. Perez? What are their life stories or experiences?
Being part of the crew, I witnessed a number of scenes where Joy (Anna Maria), Kevin (Paul McG, who plays a gay dancer...did you notice?) and Neil (Paul I) developed and established their friendship. There was a dramatic/touching scene where Joy and Neil made the whole crew shed tears and I thought that would have been a clincher in the film. But sad to say, it ended up in the editors bin. As you've mentioned in your review, Ms. Perez de Tagle should have been given more substantial scenes. She really is a "Joy" to watch. If I may add, Mr. McGill as well should have been given the same opportunity. In my opinion, these three characters would have been able to show the true color of "Fame."
Needless to say, Mr. Tancharoen should have captured the true essence of the "New York PA youth" by utilizing and developing all of his characters evenly. In my opinion, he could have done that, if he had chosen to do so. However, it seems that Mr. Tancharoen concentrated on just one character's development..........Jenny (Ms. Panabaker)....whom he had 'captured' and "captivated" way before the filming was over. Sad, utterly sad, but true.
Give it a chance Mr. Ebert, view it in it's entirety. Maybe a PG-13 rating would have made the "Fame" re-invention..........'live forever.'
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