Jem Trailer Shows the Movie Will Basically Ignore the TV Show. Here’s What’s Missing.
The first trailer for Jem and the Holograms is out now, but other than the names and pink hair, the movie looks like it will bear little resemblance to the 1980s animated series on which it’s based.
For those of you who didn’t dress up as Jem for Halloween as a child and have all of the cassette tapes, Jem was about Jerrica Benton, owner of Starlight Music who transforms into Jem, lead singer of an all-girls pop-rock band, with help from a super-secret holograph-creating computer called Synergy that was left to her by her late father.
One touch to her magic earrings and a whispered “Showtime, Synergy,” and voila, a secret identity. Yes, it was just as cheesy and ridiculous as it sounds, and all of its uber-80s fashion and bite-sized pop songs are available to stream on Netflix.
The movie preview, however, shows an overnight YouTube sensation landing a major label deal only to find out –gasp! – they want her to be someone she’s not when on stage. It’s inevitable that a modern-day reboot will disappoint those nostalgic for a childhood favorite, and certainly the trailer isn’t a full picture of what the film will entail, but so far it seems less like an adaptation and more like slapping an old brand on an only marginally related story. There’s a lot missing, including:
Jerrica/Jem’s Upbeat Personality: TV Jem was a Type-A go-getter with a heart of gold, busy running a business, a band, and a foster home for girls (more on that later), all with a generally sunny optimism and can-do spirit. As Movie Jem, Aubry Peeples is pulling her best Kristen Stewart as a mopey, moody teen whose success seems mostly accidental; she’s a closer match for Peeples’ Nashville character Layla Grant than Jem.
The Misfits: The magnificently tacky mean girls who made up a rival band were forever trying to sabotage Jem and the Holograms—but there’s no sign of them in the movie. Instead, Juliette Lewis seems to be taking the antagonist role as bossy label honcho Erica Raymond. Yes, the TV version also included The Misfits’ villainous manager, Eric Raymond, but the band was the real nemesis, and far more interesting because they were peers, not authority figures.
Synergy: OK, so the trailer includes one “Showtime, Synergy” moment, but it’s unclear what it conjures up. The holographic computer was basically a character in the show, and its magic technology was key to the whole hidden-identity situation. The show was fun because so much of it was over the top; the movie seems intent on making it more realistic. (Boo.)
The Most Hilarious Love Triangle Possible: Boyfriend Rio is clearly in play in the movie, but a) he lacks the requisite purple hair and b) he knows Jerrica and Jem are the same person. In the TV version, Rio was torn between his girlfriend, Jerrica, and his attraction to the glamorous Jem—who are actually THE SAME PERSON. A love triangle with only two players? How could you leave that out?
The Do-Gooder Vibe: Cartoon Jerrica and her friends lived in a mansion that also housed a dozen foster kids, and the Holograms’ adventures often circled back to charitable efforts, saving the environment, or some such save-the-world scenario. Yes, they were all usually tied to a big concert or photo shoot or fashion show, but there were issues about the world outside the entertainment industry. Movie Jerrica’s only problem seems to be whether she should be super-famous with her band or on her own. Meh.
The Energy: Jem featured plenty of high-speed chases, wild concerts, and action sequences—all in bright, flashy colors—that are nowhere to be seen in the muddy, mundane trailer.
The Girl Power: The movie trailer shows Jerrica being manipulated into becoming Jem, a pawn of a powerful record company and its superficial lackeys. But in the TV show, Jerrica is fully empowered, and her world is chock full of independent ladies and strong-minded girls doing their thing. It seems pretty likely that the movie Holograms will sing girl-power songs and inevitably Jerrica will stand up to her label overlords, but … yawn. We’d rather see a confident Jerrica/Jem kicking ass in business and on stage.