Before there was Hannah Montana, there was Jem and the Holograms. This 80’s cartoon followed Jerrica Benton, an ordinary girl whose actually musical sensation Jem. That brief synopsis pretty much sums up my knowledge of the show. Jem didn’t exactly catch my attention as a child. Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers were more like it. A lot of kids did grow up watching Jem, however, and many of them were appalled upon seeing the trailer for this feature film adaptation.
Based solely on the ads, many millennials complained that this contemporary, live-action reboot looked nothing like the original masterpiece. Of course nostalgic fans probably aren’t the key demographic being targeted here. The studio is more interested in grabbing the attention of today’s eight-year-old girls, most of which aren’t even aware Jem existed thirty years ago. After all, they’re the ones most likely to buy Hasbro’s merchandise. As somebody who isn’t a nostalgic fan of the show or an eight-year-old girl, I’m clearly not the right person to review this movie. As an outsider, though, I can say that it’s basically just a waste of time.
Aubrey Peeples from Nashville plays Jerrica, a small town girl who records herself singing a song under the alias of Jem. Jerrica’s sister uploads the video to YouTube and, even though her voice is totally generic, Jem becomes an Internet sensation. The video goes viral in no time with the whole world wanting to know who the mysterious Jem is. A major record label soon approaches Jerrica, prepared to make her a star. Yeah, because we all know how often that happens in real life.
From there, Jem and the Holograms is basically every other girl power/rise to fame movie ever made. You already know everything that’s going to happen. Jerrica undergoes a makeover montage, has a flirtation with a hansom guy who looks ten years older than her, and betrays her loving bandmates for forced reasons. She ultimately learns the importance of being yourself, the importance of friendship, and that anybody who posts something online is special. Interspersed throughout these cookie cutter plot points are a series of music videos that are about as inspired as what you’d see on the Disney Channel.
Isn’t there anything in this film that’s even remotely different? Well, Jerrica does have a holographic robot named Synergy her late father left behind. Kind of sounds like something out of a completely different movie, doesn’t it? That’s that larger problem with Jem and the Holograms. It’s not entirely sure what it wants to be. One half of it is trying to represent the offbeat, colorful world of the cartoon series. The other half is trying to represent a more relatable world consumed by Facebook and Twitter. It’s as if there were two screenplays written that got merged into one misguided, manipulative mess.
Much like how The Last Witch Hunter is an empty calories movie for boys, this is essentially an empty calories movie for girls. It’s pretty, pink, and devoid of any substance. The film doesn’t really care if you learn any morals or life lessons. It just wants to sell you a product. If you’re a little girl who isn’t looking for anything more than an unrealistic fantasy, you’ll probably like it fine. If you grew up with the original show and are really forgiving, maybe you’ll get a kick out of it. Everyone else should just be grateful it’s not the Bratz movie.