Jem and the Holograms
Jem and the Holograms is a 2015 American musical fantasy drama film starring Aubrey Peeples as the title character, Stefanie Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, Aurora Perrineau, Juliette Lewis, Ryan Guzman, and Molly Ringwald.
Loosely based on the 1985-88 animated television series Jem by Christy Marx, the film is produced by Hasbro Studios and Blumhouse Productions, co-produced and directed by Jon M. Chu, and written by Ryan Landels. Chu had been interested in working on the film as he grew up watching the original animated Jem series with his sisters and became a fan of it as a result.
Teenage songwriter Jerrica Benton and her younger sister Kimber live with their Aunt Bailey and two foster sisters, Aja and Shana. Jerrica learns that their house will be auctioned, and vents her emotions by recording a song using Kimber's video camera that she uses to post blogs, but she uses a disguise, calling herself Jem, a nickname given to her by her deceased father.
She accidentally forgets to delete the video, and Kimber posts it onto YouTube, garnering millions of views in a single day. Jerrica and her sisters travel to Los Angeles because Jerrica earns a record deal with Starlight productions, meeting producer Erica Raymond and her son Rio. In the process, they come across a small robot called Synergy built by the Benton sisters' deceased father, Emmett, which leads them on a scavenger hunt where each clue represents something Jerrica wanted to do with her father.
On the way, Rio and Jerrica develop feelings, much to Erica's dismay, who signs Rio off to another singer. Aunt Bailey tells Jerrica via FaceTime that their house is going for auction in a few days, and Jerrica asks for an advance. Erica happily obliges, but she says that she wants Jerrica to leave her sisters and start a solo contract, which Jerrica signs thinking that she is doing it for the family. Her sisters soon find out about the contract and leave. Jerrica goes to visit the house in Los Angeles she used to live in with Kimber and her father.
Her sisters end up coming back to finish the scavenger hunt with her, and Rio comes along as well. Jerrica soon realizes that the last piece is the earrings that her dad told her to wear, but Erica told her to take them off when she first went to Starlight. Rio and the girls break into Starlight, almost getting caught by Erica, but they succeed. The reward for finishing the hunt is a final hologram message video from Jerrica and Kimber's father (in which he tells how much he loves Jerrica, but strangely not her sister Kimber). At the end of the movie, Rio and Jem kiss, Erica is fired, the house is safe, and everyone is happy.
In a mid-credits scene, Erica arrives in a seedy junkyard, where she attempts to recruit a group of punkish young women into a band to rival the Holograms. Initially, they decline, but when the leader, Pizzazz, overhears that Rio is dating Jem, they agree and take Erica inside. The graffiti on the side of their trailer reveals that they're the Misfits.
Why It Sucks
- The movie has a very very poor grasp of the source material:
- In the show, Jem’s alter ego was Jerrica, and she used earrings to transform into her true self and her alter ego.
- The main characters are portrayed as teenage girls in the film but in the show, they're young women.
- Synergy in the movie is a small robot that's a blatant ripoff of R2-D2, while in the TV show, it's a giant super-computer.
- There are no Misfits in the movie, except in the mid-credits scene, which is nothing more than sequel baiting for a follow-up to the movie that was eventually canceled (see Trivia).
- Eric Raymond is male in the show, but in the film, Eric Raymond is a woman named Erica Raymond, which makes absolutely no sense.
- Overall, the film doesn't feel like a loving homage to the original series, but rather a giant middle finger to those who enjoyed the original.
- The songs are nothing more than generic mass-produced pop music, and it’s absolutely dreadful. While the music in the cartoon wasn’t always great either, they at least put some EFFORT into them, and they only put in at least a song or two in each episode. For the movie’s soundtrack, there are SIX songs. Only Young Blood is good, the rest of them are not.
- Most of the film is covered up with YouTube videos of people playing instruments, one of those people being Rob Scallon.
- The creators of the film had a supposed contest where if fans of the original spoke of what they liked about the original Jem cartoon on YouTube, they would have a part in the movie. However, rather than follow through with the contest, the film creators edited the YouTube videos in such a way that it sounds like they're praising the movie instead of the show. This is also laughably lazy, as not only is the merchandise the fans are wearing coming from the show, but there's literally a scene where you can see the show playing in the background. To quote the Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic on this one, "That is low."
- Awful generic plot about teenagers becoming pop stars, and it’s a story that you’ve heard a million times before in other much better movies.
- For map transitions, the film uses Google Earth. In fact, you can even actually find the logo at the bottom right of the screen in some shots. (Crank and its sequel, High Voltage, both written and directed by Neveldine/Taylor, intentionally used Google Earth for their map transitions)
- Despite Jem and her band being hyped in the film as one of the biggest musicians in the world, we only see them perform in clubs and warehouses, meaning they are not really that popular. Also, Jerrica's video goes viral with just 36,000 views on YouTube. On its own, that's not bad for a first upload, but does that warrant a record executive showing up on one's doorstep to offer a record deal? Even Justin Bieber wasn't that lucky!
- In one scene, Erica accidentally sends a poop emoji, but then calls it a typo and sends the real message. How is that a typo?
- Hypocritical messages.
- Jerrica's dad's final message to her just feels like favoritism. The message is specifically addressed to Jerrica and barely mentions Kimber.
- Speaking of Jerrica's dad, why would he send her on a journey of finding parts of Synergy?
- Anyone could've stolen the parts if they found them.
- He could've put all of the pieces together and financially help his family.
- The reward is so underwhelming, it's pointless.
- Pointless celebrity cameos. Instead of actually getting them to cameo in the film, the creators of the film instead used archived videos of them and edited them from their original context to make it look like they were talking about this film's Jem, and it's also done poorly too: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was originally talking about Taylor Swift's song "Bad Blood" instead of this film's song "Young Blood" (he also spoke about Taylor Swift in Central Intelligence), while Chris Pratt's joke about dating Jem was actually from an interview for The LEGO Movie where he joked about pretending to date his sister's Jem dolls. That last one sounds absolutely wrong when taken out of context.
- The movie had been in development for 10 years, so it's not all that surprising that it turned out the way it did.
- The movie contains a glaring error in a scene that shows Jem as a small child playing with My Little Pony toys, as she is playing with the recent FiM-era toys, even though the date the tape was recorded says it was filmed in the 1990s, while the FiM-era toys didn't come out until the 2010s.
- All of the drama that happens in the last hour in the film all happens in ONE DAY. It is so rushed, so lazy, and so terribly written.
- There are random YouTube videos thrown into the movie, and they are so distracting and make no sense.
- Despite most of the acting being pretty bad, Aubrey Peeples does do a decent job as Jerrica.
- The cameo from The Misfits is pretty cool and maybe the only time the film is faithful to the series. Shame it had to be tucked away in a post-credits scene...
- They even cast Kesha as Pizzazz, which is a perfect casting choice.
Jem and the Holograms was theatrically released on October 23, 2015, by Universal Pictures. The film received incredibly negative reviews from critics, audiences, and fans of the original TV series. The film currently holds a 22% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 3.7 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads "Jem and the Holograms ignores its source material's goofy charm in favour of bland by-the-numbers drama."
The film was both a critical and commercial failure, grossing $2.3 million worldwide on a $5 million budget. The movie was pulled from theaters after only two weeks of release.
- Christy Marx, the creator of the original animated series, said that she didn't know that a live-action adaptation of her show was going to be made. When the news spread, she was upset that Hasbro did not tell her about it.
- This film was released on the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Jem when it first aired in 1985.
- Aubrey Peeples was unfamiliar with Jem (1985) but became a fan of it during production.
- Film debut of Aurora Perrineau, Ke$ha and Isabella Kai Rice.
- There were plans for a sequel. However, after the film bombed at the box office, it was canceled.