jem header

Jem the Movie: Truly, Truly, Truly Ridiculous

jem and the holograms That drum set still cracks me up!  (via)

That it took more than thirty years to get a live-action Jem movie into production is…outrageous. Feature films based on 80’s cartoons are past the point of mockery – they’re doing it and it’s no use complaining like an elitist fuddy-duddy. Childhood nostalgia = out. Jem with a Twitter account = in. To be fair, it’s been said that the ‘preserving artistic integrity’ conversation has no place when talking about source material like the extremely goofy Hasbro cartoon.

Taking a glance at director John Chu’s body of work, phrases like “Step Up” and “Justin Bieber” are the most prominent, painting a pretty obvious picture as to what this fella is into. I’ll demure on my own opinion of dance-movie sequels or teenybopper pop stars, but suffice to say, taking on the flamboyant world of Jerrica Benton doesn’t seem to fit his pantheon.

It’s my impression that this movie will not be set in the same time period the cartoon was (which always appeared to be the 1980’s + the future to me…) but instead, a current timeframe complete with the perils of navigating the world of social media. I think the decision to ‘go modern’ and attempt to aim this at young kiddos, instead of the generation that remembers the show, will backfire. Not to mention what this does to the fashion angle…

The Holograms have been cast in classic Hollywood fashion: the girls are far too young, though they are suitably boring. With a gaggle of no-name actors (unless obscure television starlets are your thing), I have a sneaking suspicion that Jem and her gang will now be all-out sexified, as opposed to their fairly conservative roots (sure, the cartoons wore super-short skirts and tons of makeup, but somehow they avoided ‘cheap tart’ territory).

jem wigJem will still have pink hair. That’s close enough, right?  (via)

That the age of the gals has been altered comes as no surprise. Jem and the Holograms supposedly ran an orphanage-type foster home in addition to Jerrica’s work as a record label executive, but these ladies look straight out of high school. Chalk it up as another episode of “Who needs grown women when you can have young girls, amirite?” Internet commentary has also been raging over the uniformly pale complexions of the band, but again, this phenomenon is nothing new for Tinseltown adaptations.

Evidently, the original creators of the cartoon have absolutely nothing to do with this project. Christy Marx, the primary writer of the series, wasn’t even approached until the film was in pre-production and has voiced her dissatisfaction over the complete lack of females on the creative team. Possibly to deflect scrutiny, the film’s producers blasted the blogosphere with an open call to submit your own ideas, a creative crowd-sourcing free-for-all, if you will. So when this turns into a disaster, it was your fault.

I’d love to see what a director like Amy Heckerling, Penelope Spheeris or, heck, even Tim Burton might have done with a project like this. Not that any of them might have been interested in a bastardized movie version of a campy TV show from thirty years ago. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers in hopes that Pizzazz and the Misfits will still be awesome villains. But they’ll probably just be milquetoast rip-offs of The Plastics. I can just see it now, the main conflict in the film will be someone who is bullied online or pestered by TMZ. John Chu probably doesn’t even know that Jem was the first rockstar to win the Indy500! But let’s get real – I’ll be holding a ticket on opening day. Showtime, Synergy!

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