Wednesday, December 16, 2015

By Opting to Distance Itself from Its Ludicrous (but Fun) Source Material, 'Jem and the Holograms' Ends Up Being Insufferably Bland

This movie was released way back in October, so it has been around for some time now that I’m very much aware that it’s one the most awful movies of the year.  Heck, right from the start – based on the trailers – I knew this movie was going to be a trainwreck.  Still, I watched it, thinking that I might still have enjoyment from it by making fun of how terrible it is.

As an adaptation of a beloved property, this movie is as worse as Fant4stic.  Aside from character names, this movie has nothing similar with the 80’s animated series.  Rather, the movie is basically a fictionalized adaptation of the rise of Justin Bieber.  And, yep, it’s just as insufferable as that sounds.

Honestly, I’m not much of a fan of the original Jem cartoon, but I’ve watched enough episodes to know what it’s all about.  It’s actually pretty ludicrous.  However, its ludicrous elements are what made it fun and notable.  So to make a live-action movie adaptation work, there’s the need to embrace the ludicrousness of the source material.  But the movie didn’t.  Hence, it ended up being stale and generic instead.

If the movie opted of using the original premise – music company owner Jerrica Benton secretly maintaining the alter-ego of Jem, the lead singer of the band “Jem and the Holograms”, by the use of a holographic computer called “Synergy” – instead of the Bieber-ian premise – teen singer Jerrica Benton becoming viral in Youtube, whose popularity exponentially increases to become a pop culture icon in a short amount of time – they used in the movie, even if the script was bad, the movie would have turned out being a thousand times better than what was made.

I also tried to take it as if it’s an “original” movie, without its source material as benchmark.  But it also didn’t work for me that way.  It felt like a desperate rip-off of Pitch Perfect.   No matter how we look at it, Jem and the Holograms is an epic failure.  It’s dull, corny, and pretentious.  Its one good joke was already spoiled by the trailer.  There are a few minutes of some catchy music (e.g. “Youngblood”), but it’s not good enough to make its soundtrack a legitimate redeeming quality.  It’s so bland that it even sucks the fun of lampooning its awfulness.

Watching Jem and the Holograms reminded me of the 2001 live-action movie adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats.  It wasn’t a great movie, but it actually had enjoyable elements and personality.  It had self-aware humor, the musical performances were done much more believably, and Tara Reid was hilarious as the dumbass Melody.  That movie is much, much more entertaining than Jem and the Holograms.

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