Quantcast
become a Patreon patron

maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

Jem and the Holograms movie review: rock ’n’ roll fantasy

Jem and the Holograms red light

Utterly implausible on every level, and ultimately rather insulting: a bit of glitter and lots of hugs are the sum total of its “girl power.”
I’m “biast” (pro): desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not seen the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Well, shoot. I really wanted to like this flick. Not that I have any investment in the 1980s cartoon it’s based on: I’ve never even seen it, and honestly, I don’t even remember it. But this is a movie about a bunch of young women — women who are very different from one another and interested in different sorts of things, and some of them are even not white! — being cool and having fun and forming a band and making music. Alas, Jem and the Holograms is utterly implausible on every level, including its primary one, as tween wish-fulfillment fantasy.

Shy musician Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples: Rage) is appalled when her sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott: Insidious: Chapter 3, Wreck-It Ralph), who lives on social media, uploads a video of Jerrica singing a song of her own composition. But when it becomes a huge viral hit — which seems unlikely; it’s a pretty bland song — a record company comes calling and (even more unlikely) offers them a deal, which Jerrica agrees to accept so they can save the family home, which is far from the least clichéd aspect of the plot here. Over the course of a mere few days, Jerrica and Kimber and their adoptive sisters and new bandmates Shana (Aurora Perrineau) and Aja (Hayley Kiyoko: Insidious: Chapter 3) will engage in kooky dress-up montages as they attempt to find their “look,” ride the roller coaster of sudden fame, and endure an emotionally trying breakup of the band followed instantly by a tearful reunion. At literally the same time as several years’ worth of rock ’n’ roll drama is unfolding, the girls are on a treasure hunt left by Jerrica and Kimber’s dead nerd-tinkerer dad (Barnaby Carpenter, in old videos) to complete the little robot he left behind, which is, annoyingly, ultimately a pointless subplot. I imagine fans of the animated series will be even more annoyed, because the little robot has absolutely nothing to do with how still-shy Jerrica hides her identity behind its holograms, as she does in the cartoon.

Here, instead, a bit of face makeup and a wig is supposed to render Jerrica unrecognizable (it doesn’t); global fame is achieved almost literally overnight on the basis of a couple of flavorless tunes; and “Jem,” Jerrica’s “secret identity,” somehow becomes an inspiration to the sad and the lonely around the planet. I didn’t believe a moment of it. There’s no humor here, although clearly director Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and screenwriter Ryan Landels believe they are being constantly amusing, and Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis (Kelly & Cal, Due Date) are complete wasted as, respectively, the girls’ aunt and the slightly villainous music exec. A bit of glitter and lots of hugs are the sum total of “girl power” here. It’s rather insulting.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Jem and the Holograms for its representation of girls and women.


red light 2 stars

When you purchase or rent almost anything from Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and iTunes (globally), you help support my work at Flick Filosopher. Please use my links when you’re shopping at either service. Thank you!

Jem and the Holograms (2015)
US/Can release: Oct 23 2015
UK/Ire release: Feb 12 2016

MPAA: rated PG for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language
BBFC: rated PG (infrequent mild bad language)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

Pin It on Pinterest