Review by Ale Turdó
Writer, director, voice talent and actor Jeff Nimoy decided to make his feature debut a Rom-Com in an actual anime-con, with a fictionalized version of himself as the heart of the story. Fame-ish (2020) becomes as meta as it can possibly get and ventures into nerd territory —or why not nerditory?— with some mildly entertaining screwball extravaganza.
10+ years have passed since voice talent and anime director Jeff Nimoy —real life second cousin of Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy— last struck success in his line of work. With his glory days long gone, Nimoy reluctantly accepts a paid invitation to be the main guest on an anime convention held somewhere in Wisconsin. To his own surprise, anime fans are still crazy about his work on a very popular show from his heyday, and are willing to spend big bucks on autographs and photo ops, which makes Jeff realize just how good of a business conventions have become in the past couple of years.
While doing his thing at the convention, Jeff reconnects with some old time colleagues. He also meets Nikki, a voice actress he starts developing a surprisingly deep relationship with. But Jeff’s old habits die hard, and threaten to jeopardize his brand new shot at being finally happy.
Whoever has ever been to any sort of comic or anime convention will immediately recognize the mandatory tropes: cue lines, official merchandise, fans in need of a bath. Filmed in the midst of a real convention, Fame-ish does an interesting job at recreating that universe up to the smallest detail. Once the audience is caught inside the convention domain, the story gets a reliable background to start developing its narrative.
There is a certain charm about Jeff Nimoy’s approach to this over the hill voice talent alter ego fighting with his own demons, there is a sense of vulnerability in the way he talks, the way he moves. Reality based or not, this attributes sure make his character a profound and deep one.
Technically wise, Fame-ish is a movie that makes a naturalistic approach to filmmaking. The camera follows its characters freely, some shots give us the conventioneers point of view and this generates a sort of intimacy, it feels like we as an audience are sitting there, being part of it all. The script is flexible enough to turn from screwball to drama in a split second, and vice versa. The indie-like soundtrack helps smooth the edges and navigate from one scene to the next, creating all sorts of transitional moods.
There is also an interesting look inside the convention-era business. No matter how big or small, the past decade and a half proved that there are fans of almost everything, and the special connection between fans and artists always stands the test of time. But all things aside, in its core Fame-ish is a movie about second chances, about an alcoholic trying to turn things around, trying to do better. Deep down, all the characters involved are simply flawed people doing their best to improve. Not a bad silver lining for a movie initially about the shenanigans of a washed up anime voice actor.
Ale Turdó —Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Alejandro is a film critic and movie enthusiast that has been writing about movies for the past 7 years, covering everything from blockbusters to indie gems and all in between. He majored in Sound Design and Cinematography in college and is a full time digital content producer. He’s the kind of guy that thinks that even the worst movie can have something interesting to write about. Additionally, he writes for Escribiendo Cine and A Sala Llena. Twitter: @aleturdo and IG: @hoysalecine