I saw it, so now I’m going to try to be fair about it. But first, feel free to check out the first two times I wrote about this movie.
First Impression (Published on May 14, 2015, Reblogged on October 22, 2015)
Revisited (Published on October 23, 2015, after re-watching the trailer)
So, I did it.
I dropped $5.99 on the Amazon rental of the 2015 release of Jem and the Holograms, which saw a brief (and by brief, I mean the two-week minimum a movie is contractually obligated to stay in the theater) release in October 2015. I found it on a shelf at Target this past week, and decided that if $11.30 at the movie theater (plus goodies) was overpriced for this film, then $22.99 for the Blu-Ray release (and $19.99 for the DVD) was overkill.
I will say this: as a movie, it worked. It’s a nice story about a girl trying to find her voice and identity when she becomes a victim of her own fame. How is she a victim? She develops a huge ego and threatens to destroy the image she never really wanted. But, unfortunately, it had the wrong name and characters going for it. If this film had been anything other than something called Jem and the Holograms, it would have probably fared better. Instead, it took something that nostalgia buffs and ’80s babies knew and loved and said “sorry, we’re going to modernize it and make it a story about a teenager trying to make it. Oh, and her name is Jerrica, her alter ego is Jem, and what a coincidence, her band is the Holograms!”
Oh, and Synergy is some cute Wall-E-esque robot. And Eric Raymond…is Juliette Lewis. And it’s now Erica Raymond. And Rio? He’s her son. And an intern for Starlight.
HER SON! Why is that a thing?!
Also different: Jerrica and her sister, Kimber, lost their dad at an early age, lived with an aunt (and the two foster sisters she raised, Shana and Aja – that concept was accurate sans their aunt), Starlight House was Starlight Mansion – and is not an orphanage like in the cartoon, but a mansion owned by Starlight Records, which was in turn owned by ERICA Raymond. Sorry, I can’t get past that. I just can’t.
The film also got all the requisite updates for today’s generation – You Tube, digital photography/videography, and gaining fame via posting yourself on You Tube. It’s a modern story, and not the truly outrageous 1980s story it was born to be.
And they forgot the Jem theme. Why?! WHY??!
Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a terrible movie by any means, it just wasn’t faithful to source material, and if it had any other title and character names, it would have been decent. It had the distinction of being a film about an all-girl group that coincidentally had the names of characters on a certain cartoon. I’d say it was a slap to the face of ’80s fangirls everywhere, but that would be harsh. I’ve seen far worse. I’m a Mystery Science Theater 3000/RiffTrax fan, after all.
As Jerrica Benton/Jem, Aubrey Peeples is quite cute and an adept singer, but I just have a hard time with the fact that she’s playing Jem. And the music itself isn’t too far removed from the kind of cheesy fun that the cartoon cranked out, but I will admit, the song “Youngblood” was probably one of the best and most redeeming things about the movie. My ’80s fangirl heart would have been completely crushed, if not for Molly Ringwald in a small, but significant role, as Jerrica’s Aunt Bailey.
The film was a colossal flop – as I mentioned, it only stayed in the theater for the contractually-obligated two weeks, and grossed $2.5 million on a $5 million budget. From what I understand, this movie was ten years in the making, and well…yeah. And no spoilers, but if this movie believed it was destined for a sequel, well, that definitely won’t be happening.
This movie is proof that just because some (not all) beloved cartoon franchises can cut it as live-action features (albeit questionably), doesn’t mean they all can. And if you need further proof of the ones that don’t work…have you ever seen Masters of the Universe?
If you really want to see Jem as she was meant to be, before her modernization, watch the cartoon. It’s dated in look, but it holds up great by comparison to this, which will just go down as being another “girl on the brink of fame” movie. A cut above the others, but marred by having a name it didn’t deserve.
That, my friends, is truly outrageous for a whole other reason.