The new Jem and the Holograms movie is not a terrible movie; it’s a misunderstood movie much like how fans reacted to Josie and the Pussycats. At least with Josie, not everyone got the joke upon its initial release that the story is a satire of consumerism and the music industry at large. These manufactured bands should say something about how the 2015 Jem movie was developed. It looks at how studios control the music instead of the musicians. The story in this re-imagining focussed on keeping a family together instead of being an outright comedy of errors.
Many people have forgotten the video Jon Chu created stating his intentions. He wanted to modernize the story and put it in the context of today’s obsession with YouTube and Social Media culture. MySpace hardly exists in this world, as it was so last year—pardon the vernacular.
A small seed from the ‘toon remains but this reveal does not take place until mid-way into the film. Many can argue that this movie is a precursor to where the cartoon started, especially in the fact The Misfits were introduced at the end of the movie, signaling the rivalry the animation constantly dwelled in.
The only fact that remains the same is that Jerrica “Jem” Benton’s (Aubrey Peeples) dad is dead. The details as to what led to his death are different. Another detail that’s been twisted around is the circumstances towards the romance that takes place between Jem and Rio Pacheco. In the film, a plot is developed around a machine 51N3RG.Y (pronounced synergy) which has this songwriter looking for clues to activate it. The series began with her discovering a sentient artificial intelligence which helps her change appearances at the blink of an eye and solves crime along the way. The cartoon was developed a decade and a half after the height of Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats’ popularity but it grew into becoming a well-established entity of its own, being just as inspirational to audiences of either gender to watch. For boys, there was the adventure, and for girls, they were role models. All viewers can relate to how the series tackled bullying whenever the Misfits came into the picture.
Jem and the Holograms has its problems as Erica Raymond replaces Eric from the television series, and Rio Raymond is the son (was Pacheco in the toon). The changes are trivial, just to present a tighter concept but are these reasons why so many people hated it? Had this movie emphasized the satire more like Josie and the Pussycats, this film would have been worth noting. To look deeper into the creation process of girl-bands (in addition to boy-bands) of this era would have made for some amusing juxtapositions that the cartoon never looked at. Hey, if Kidd Video can mix real life with animation and be good, why not?
The music is contemporary and modern for audiences groomed by modern artists like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga instead of the 80s. Knowing Chu’s intentions makes the change acceptable. Had this movie been made when 80’s style was making a comeback, this director might have gone with what’s truly in fashion instead of being outrageous at changing every detail to suit a 2015 audience.
Hilary Duff provides the best score, “Youngblood,” out of the entire soundtrack and Peeples shows her prowess in “The Way I Was” and “We Got Heart.” As a singer, she’s fantastic when performing at the Grand Ole Opry. Even as a performer, she proves to be adorable. The only shame is that this movie will not reach the cult status the live-action Josie and the Pussycats movie has. Redheads win out over pink.