This bunch of eight Ohio kids just coming out of high school have ambitions: they want to be in showbiz, and believe they have the talent to get them there with the music and singing of Michael (Don Franklin), the lyrics of Matt (John Scott Clough), and the dancing of the six girls they have to back up their tunes. After another rehearsal in a deserted warehouse, they know they are ready to set off for New York where Matt has secured a contact in the industry for them, confident they will be accepted to audition for the big talent show there, but it's not all going to go as smoothly as they would have wanted...
For Fast Forward, director Sidney Poitier - yes, that Sidney Poitier, first black man to win the Best Leading Man Oscar Sidney Poitier, groundbreaking figure of United States civil rights movement Sidney Poitier - wanted to create a musical that would stand up to the classics of the genre but also said something to the kids of the eighties, which naturally pickled it in a rich atmosphere of big hair, legwarmers and synth drums for all time instead of enduring down the ages as one of the greats of its kind. But equally, this did mean lots of fun was on offer for nostalgists of today, as that overearnest quality was quite the prompt to get misty-eyed for many.
Or burst out laughing at what passed for entertainment in 1985, whatever floated your boat. With a plot that spoke more to the nineteen-thirties where you could imagine Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland acting out much the same storyline, one thing they got right was the power of the talent show, as the format became bigger than ever over the passing years and decades, so you could at least relate to that as an entertainment that had not gone out of fashion. What had gone out of fashion was just about everything else: in spite of Quincy Jones on musical direction this was less Thriller and more tinny dance pop which curiously lacked any decent hooks to draw you in.
Couple that with the none-more-eighties choreography, which to be fair was accomplished with a flair that if nothing else demonstrated the cast were hired for their aptitude in that area, if not perhaps the acting side of things, and you should have had a movie which was as fun to watch now as Breakin' is (if indeed that is your idea of fun). But regarding the cast in between those dance setpieces was a lot less interesting as our heroes show up in The Big Apple to claim their rightful place in the show, only to be told the head of the company Matt got his guarantee from has since died and they will have to audition with quite a few others in three weeks. If you think this means there's no chance of them succeeding, then this movie will definitely surprise you.
If, however, you might have seen more than ten films in your day - OK, ten fluffy films - it's a chore to sit through the team suffer the obstacles on their way to stardom when it's blatantly obvious they will emerge the victors by the finale, it just wasn't the type of movie to behave otherwise. After a while the biggest question in your mind will be whether Poitier will end the movie on a freeze frame of the dancers leaping in mid-air, which will divert you more than Matt's girlfriend troubles with fellow performer June (Tamara Mark), jealous she is being elbowed out the way by a possible wealthy benefactor's daughter. There is a dance off, however, in fact there are two with a gang of tough guys, making you wonder just how tough they can be if that's their idea of confrontation, as the hopefuls also have to counter the bad neighbourhood they have moved into, with the girls under threat of sexual assault: not even the Kids from Fame had to labour under that. The problem with being so up to the minute is timelessness was far beyond them, and the clothes will make you chuckle even if your foot isn't tapping.
Confident, handsome and iconic, this American-born leading actor first made an impression in the 1950s in films such as The Blackboard Jungle, Edge of the City, The Defiant Ones (which he spent chained to Tony Curtis) and Porgy and Bess. By the sixties he was a star, appearing in A Raisin in the Sun, Lillies of the Field (for which he won an Oscar, the first black actor to do so in a leading role), The Long Ships, The Bedford Incident, To Sir With Love, racially themed thriller In the Heat of the Night and racially themed comedy Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.
By the seventies, Poitier had turned to directing, usually light comedies, with western Buck and the Preacher, Uptown Saturday Night and its sequel Let's Do It Again, A Piece of the Action, Stir Crazy, Hanky Panky, musical Fast Forward and Bill Cosby vehicle Ghost Dad. He then concentrated on acting once more, with appearances in Shoot To Kill, Little Nikita, Sneakers and The Jackal.