Intermittently appealing but overly familiar, reality TV-style docu “Fame High” follows a quartet of talented students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Nothing much surprising happens to these kids as they struggle with demanding teachers, pushy parents, raging hormones and performance anxiety in pursuit of admission to prestigious arts-ed programs. Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (“The Garden”) favors formulaic uplift over investigation, failing to offer a p.o.v. on whether young creative people should be driven as mercilessly as these. Lackluster videography further dulls the pic, which culminates in frustratingly fleeting glimpses of the students’ year-end performances.Redheaded 14-year-old Ruby McCollister stands out here, partly because, as a gifted thesp, she knows how to play to the camera. Jazz pianist Zak hits some wrong notes, possibly in reaction to his dad’s slave-driving. Well-named dancer Grace Song points her toes toward Juilliard and wishes her Korean-American parents would let her have a b.f. Singer-songwriter Brittany Hayes skips school to audition at bars — a potentially involving bit of drama the film doesn’t have the nerve or good fortune to capture sufficiently. Copious childhood photos take the place of psychological detail.
A Black Valley Films presentation, in association with Whitewater Films. (International sales: Lantern Lane Entertainment, Calabasas, Calif.) Produced by Leilani Makuakane Potter, Scott Hamilton Kennedy. Executive producers, Rick Rosenthal, Chip Rosenbloom. Directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy.
Camera (color, HD), Kennedy; editors, Jillian Moul, Kennedy; music, Doug DeAngelis. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (competing), April 21, 2012. Running time: 97 MIN.
Grace Song, Brittany Hayes, Zak Astor, Ruby McCollister.