After Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) and Kimber’s (Stefanie Scott) dad (Barnaby Carpenter) died, they go to live with their Aunt Bailey (Molly Ringwold). Bailey has 2 foster daughters, Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau). The four girls bond as if they are real sisters. All of them are talented musically, and often perform together.
One night, Jerrica decides to make a video of her singing a song she wrote. To not put her true self online, she puts on a costume and uses the name Jem. When Kimber, who is obsessed with posting everything online, posts the video to YouTube without telling Jerrica, the video goes viral. Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), head of Starlight Enterprises sees the video and extends an offer to Jem.
When Jem and her sisters make their first performance, their popularity skyrockets. They quickly become famous worldwide. But at what cost? And what was their dad trying to tell them?
Let me start by saying that I am in no way the target audience for Jem and the Holograms. Sure, my generation is marginally who the film is aimed at, but only from a nostalgia standpoint. Instead, the film is aimed specifically at teen girls.
For its target, Jem is a decent movie. It speaks their language. The whole focus of the film is YouTube and everything social media. In fact, a good portion of the movie is told using YouTube clips. It helps the kids relate to the film. This is a good thing. The film actually has a fairly good message. That message is to be true to who you are and don’t cave in to what everyone else wants you to be. And don’t be afraid to express yourself.
The soundtrack is decent. It’s fairly standard pop music that the kids will enjoy. They will also like Synergy, the cute little beat-boxing robot that sends the girls on a citywide scavenger hunt. The story is also standard fare, especially for a movie centered around a music group. Not to give too much up, but every plot staple from every music group movie is pulled into the movie.
Aubrey Peeples and crew do a decent job in the film. They pull off the social media obsessed girls that teenagers identify with. Their performances are on par with what you would expect for a movie aimed and teen girls. Ryan Guzman is thrown in as eye candy. He’s fine, too. Molly Ringwold, who has a small part in the film, is thrown in, again, as a nostalgia bit for the women who grew up watching the cartoon.
My teenage girls liked the film, even if it was sad. Well, “I liked it, but I didn’t like it,” said my 15-year-old. I will say, there were tears for a good portion of the second half. My 6-year-old just said it was awesome. She was dancing in her seat during most of the musical numbers. I think Synergy was probably her favorite part.
Now, from outside the target audience, I have a few questions/issues with the film. Warning: there may be some spoilers from this point. If you don’t want to know anything about the film, stop reading now.
First, Jem’s dad invented a robot. She goes on this scavenger hunt to find the missing parts of the robot. All the robot does is play home movies. Was the scavenger hunt necessary? Why is Kimber never even mentioned in any of the home movies? Not even once. What happened to their mom? Synergy, who was much larger and played a much larger role in the cartoon, produces exactly 2 holograms in the movie. How does that become the inspiration for the band’s name? Was the scene with a topless Ryan Guzman really necessary?
Overall, it’s not a bad movie. For the kids, at least. It’s catchy music and heavy use of YouTube clips will have them loving it. Those of you who grew up watching the cartoon, the film doesn’t follow the show very closely at all, from what I remember. Although, there were several adults at the movie hooting and hollering and clapping at various references to the original. Jem and the Holograms may not be truly outrageous, but it is a good movie night out with the kids. Don’t get up to leave when the credits start, though. You will miss the end credit scene that sets up Jem 2.