Rama is back with another reivew. This time he reviews JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS.
May the gods of cinema forgive me, I can’t stop myself from enjoying JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS. Despite its imperfection and the fact that it’s pretty generic, this movie is charming and fun, and simply irresistible. We’ve danced this tango before, but the characters themselves are aware of the generic nature of it all, they embrace it, so I think that just spells out the word awesome. And make way for Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, and Aurora Perrineau. These beautiful talented young ladies are going places!
Aubrey Peeples plays a small town girl by the name of Jerrica Benton who lives with her sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott) and her friends, Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau). Each of them has distinct personality but they get along and compliment one another. The legendary 80s sweetheart, Molly Ringwald plays their guardian whose store business isn’t doing so well, so their little family is struggling financially. Jerrica often finds solace in her music and the memory of her late dad. Kimber tries to get Jerrica to take more faith in her music, to put herself out there, so she secretly uploads Jerrica’s personal song video online and voila! It goes viral. All of a sudden, the whole world is talking about this character Jem, Jerrica’s alter ego, it certainly arrests the attention of record label producer Erica Raymond who wants to capitalize on Jem. Four aspiring musicians taking the world by storm until they realize that fame isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, it certainly means nothing without your family or the people who accept you for who you are.
This film is based on Hasbro’s popular 80s animated series of the same name. But if you come into the theaters expecting something exactly like the one you grew up watching, then take your expectation down a notch because there’s no 80s hairstyle here, no 80s vibe, no 80s music, what screenwriter Ryan Landels and director Jon Chu did was that they updated story and the characters in order to cater to today’s generation and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has some throwback to your favorite lines, you’ll catch several things that remind you of the animated series, but for the most part.. let’s just put it this way, keep in mind that even the four lead stars of this movie weren’t around when “Jem” was on TV. And so how to connect the original fans with today’s youth who just want to watch a hip and vibrant movie, that was the challenge and I think JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS did a fantastic job of bridging that gap.
Just like many of you, I’m a huge fan of Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis, so to see those two legendary actresses practically sparring is one of this film’s many treats. Their characters are like the yin and yang in this film, opposite ends of the spectrum. Juliette in particular is so freakin’ good as the villain, you can't take your eyes off her. As Erica Raymond who embodies the bad side of capitalism, Juliette Lewis plays it to perfection so much so that there’s a side of you that wants to root for Erica Raymond. So sassy, I just love her.
The songs are extremely catchy. I was at the press screening and I found my foot tapping to every beat. I think the soundtrack is going to be a big hit. Granted, there are moments or sequences in this film that are silly, they’re straight out of a cliche manual, at times it feels like you’re watching a disney channel production, not to mention the third act which is just riddled with morality and motivational speeches, one after another. But again, I think the combination of magnetic actresses like Molly, Juliette, Hayley, Aurora, Stefanie, Aubrey, (who by the way looks like a cross between Jena Malone and Kat Dennings, all three equally beautiful of course) and the super catchy music, and their never-ending supply of energy, everything about them would draw you in.
I think there are parts about this film that fans of the original can appreciate, like the theme of sisterhood and of course the flashy glamorous pink, but what director Jon Chu (“Step Up”) has pretty much done here is he incorporates what fame means to today’s generation. Teenagers these days can quickly name their favorite YouTube stars in a heartbeat. But not all of them would recognize someone like Chris Pratt, for example. We’re living in this social media day and age where anybody can create their own identity and share it with the world and be famous on their own doing, a world in which stardom can be reached within just a click of a button or a touch screen press on your smart phone, JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS makes you wonder if fame is worth pursuing if you’re pursuing it alone. Let me tell you this much, I walked out of the theater wanting more of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS.
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