REVIEW — “Jem and the Holograms”
I grew up watching Jem, I was born in the 80’s. I owned the dolls and I’m pretty certain I even owned the cassette tape featuring songs from the cartoon, so when I heard Jon M Chu (G.I. Joe Retaliation, Step Up Revolution) was rallying support to make a “Jem and The Holograms” film, I jumped on board. I reblogged every bit of info I could find about the project, I gushed to my friends, and little by little, all of us “truly outrageous” fans were giddy about the revival of our favorite animated music mogul/secret rock star “Jem”.
And then; like so many franchises before it, came the bad news. The story line had been changed, the cast was younger, the music mogul was gone, the creative, independent “Jem”, had been replaced by an self conscious, camera shy teenager, all while making a desperate attempt at relating to youth culture by featuring “Likes”, Youtube, Selfies and general over sharing of every detail of ones daily life. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this movie anymore. I honestly felt like a precious part of my childhood was about to be ruined.
The original “Jem and the Holograms” was an animated tv series that aired from 1985-1988, about record label owner, Jerrica Benton, and her alter ego “Jem” , who is a lead singer in a band, with her real and adopted sisters “the Holograms”. Jerrica’s father mysteriously died and left her a holographic computer, known as Synergy that is “the ultimate audio-visual entertainment synthesizer”, which allows Jem and the Holograms to fully disguise themselves by using a micro-projector found in Jem’s earrings. Jem and her sisters are in a constant rivalry with another local band, “The Misfits”; a sneaky, manipulative group of girls, that are always looking to one up the competition. The series was a collaboration between Hasbro and a couple of other production companies (that are now defunct) that brought you “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers”.
You see why I’m headed down the “You ruined my childhood” path now?
The film “Jem and the Holograms” is about a shy, talented girl named Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) ,who unknowingly becomes a youtube sensation, due to her sneaky younger sister Kimber (Stephanie Scott). When the owner of Starlight Enterprises, Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis) sees the money making potential of Jerrica, aka “Jem”, she tracks her down at her Aunt’s (Molly Ringwald) house and strikes a 3 show deal with Jerrica and her 3 sisters. Along the way, Jerrica discovers clues that her late father has left for her, by way of “51N3RGY”, a broken robotic invention that has conveniently come to life just as the girls are headed into LA.
A lot of little details were changed from the original series, Eric Raymond is now Erica Raymond. Jerrica is only a musician, and not the owner of Starlight. Rio (Ryan Guzman); who originally played Jerrica’s boyfriend, is now Erica Raymond’s son, and next in line to own the record label. Synergy; originally a female holographic projection in a large computer, is now “51N3RGY”, a small quirky robot that can fit in Jerrica’s backpack and leads the girls on a scavenger hunt around LA.
While the music is rather catchy and the acting is decent, the storyline is clunky at best. On more than one occasion, I felt as though scenes had been cut, important lines had vanished, and suddenly major dilemmas were being resolved sitcom style, and everything could be wrapped up in a neat little bow for the next scene. There is also a lot of cheap filler, in the form of amatuer youtube videos that have nothing to do with the story, but instead, provide a weird soundtrack. It’s only toward the end of the film I realized, “Jem and the Holograms” is targeted at millennials. Out of left field, they start throwing video confessions at you, from gushing, disgustingly, positive fans in a last ditch effort to make you care about the characters; “Jem is inspiring”, “Jem changed my life”, “Jem’s voice helped me thru so much in the past few weeks”, “I can be myself now because I saw Jem online”. This films tries so hard to push social media in your face, that it’s going to be dated in by the time you need an update on your latest app.
Overall, I actually kinda liked it, surprising, I know, but not as a “Jem” movie, only as a ” made for TV movie, that my 6 yr old happens to have on in the background while I’m cooking dinner”. I can see the music becoming popular, and I’ll probably even watch the sequel
Yes, that’s right, they left it open for a sequel. Stick around for a mid credit scene & you won’t be disappointed by the cameo. Sadly, it was probably the best part of the movie.
Jon M Chu managed to alienate what should’ve been his target audience and he majorly missed the mark if he thinks millennials are going to flock to see this movie, as my screening barely had 30 people in it.
“Jem and the Holograms”, in theaters October 23
2 out of 5 STARS
-Media Maven Lauren