Jem And The Holograms, the comic book and animated series, has gotten its first live action movie adaptation, and it’s being released in American theaters tonight. But there are lots of film critics who’ve already reviewed the film, and many of them are less than impressed.
Starring Nashville regular Aubrey Peeples as the lead character, the film follows Jem, an aspiring singer who’s discovered via YouTube, thanks to her sister Kimber who uploaded her music there. Jerrica “Jem” Benton gets the attention of music mogul Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis) at her first live performance and is spirited away to a life of promised fame and fortune along with her foster sisters Shana (Aurora Perrineau) and Aja (Hayley Kiyoko).
— The AV Club (@TheAVClub) October 22, 2015
But there’s a scheme underway led by Raymond to weasel Jem away from her sisters and establish her as a solo star. Meanwhile, Jem is falling in love with Rio, their manager, and is trying to make sure that her Aunt Bailey Molly Ringwald doesn’t go bankrupt. She’s also piecing together a puzzle left by her father in the form of a mini-robot named Synergy.
That’s it in terms of the plot, and according to Geoff Berkshire from Variety, it’s not enough to fill the two-hour run-time.
“Perhaps a few killer musical numbers would’ve helped move things along — and explain how exactly Jem becomes such a global sensation that she’s deluged with virtual messages professing that her music saves lives and empowers an army of fans,” Berkshire writes. “But even Jem’s performances are limited to just a handful of scenes.”
Forbes reports that the Jem And The Holograms movie was made for a modest $5 million by Blumhouse Productions, a company that’s known for not being too extravagant with their production budgets.
“Sadly Jem and the Holograms is not even a good version of the kind of movie it is attempting to be,” writes Scott Mendelson for Forbes. “It roars to life when its characters are singing their hearts out, but there are shockingly few ‘Jem and her band do their thing onstage’ moments.”
Mendelson also criticizes the Jem and The Holograms movie for weakening its main characters.
“It takes a cartoon that was originally about a group of women who unquestionably held power and turns it into a tale of a meek and weak-willed young woman who is arbitrarily given fame and holds zero agency except for that which is granted to her by the men in her life.”
As this article in the Mary Sue notes, in the original Jem and the Holograms animated series, Jem and her sisters are rock stars with secret identities who hangs out with a hologram-producing robot, Synergy. A premise that would be hard to translate to screen faithfully.
But the Mary Sue‘s Carolyn Cox makes a case for the positive sides of the movie.
“The stars are talented enough to carry the script’s many incomprehensible moments,” she writes. “I appreciated the messages about friendship and familial love, and I liked that the romantic subplot was both brief and positive…”
In the original Jem and The Holograms series, Jerrica Benton was the owner and manager of Starlight Music and the Starlight Foundation which was really a foster home for young girls. She uses her earring to project a hologram over her body to become Jem the rock star alongside her sisters. According to the plot summary on IMDB, Jem and The Holograms’ rivals are The Misfits, a group made up of the frosty Pizzazz, the tough-talking Roxy, and the mild-mannered Stormer. During the series, Jem and the Holograms were constantly going on adventures around the world, gaining fans along the ways because of their hit music.
With the Jem and The Holograms movie opening tonight, we’ll see if the 21st century plot line will appeal to younger audiences since it’s pretty clear that it will offend older fans of the animated source material.
[Photo by Justina Mintz/Universal Pictures]