If you were a child of the '80s, it's pretty likely you grew up with Jem & the Holograms, a cartoon series build to sell toys from HASBRO. It was about Jerrica Benton, a young woman who inherits a record company from her father and decides to use it, and the giant computer in the basement, to become a secret rock star with her three sisters using a futuristic system that projected a hologram of her alternate persona, Jem, right on top of her.
It was, to put it simply, truly outrageous. It was also pretty great.
If, however, you are growing up now, you have Jem & the Holograms, the 2015 live-action adaptation intended to ... sell you the internet? When this film was first announced, it carried with it the potential to be this generation's Josie and the Pussycats, a satirical film about what it's like to be a celebrity in the age of the internet. It was not that.
Since nearly no one saw this movie, and since I have THOUGHTS about it (53 of them, and that's with some well-placed self-control), we decided to give this film the Deja View treatment to see where they went wrong.
1. This movie starts with a compilation of YouTube videos of people playing Passenger's "Let Her Go," which REALLY sets the tone for what we're about to experience.
2. We meet Jerrica as she's vlogging about self-identity and the way we hide behind the curated personas we have online, which is actually a good thesis statement for a serious approach to the main conceit of Jem. We will come back to this because it does not pay off. I will probably be yelling. You've been warned.
3. Aunt Molly Ringwald has had Aja and Shana since they were little kids and they are still foster kids? I don't know how the foster system works but I thought by this point they'd just be adopted.
4. 51N3RG.Y sounds like the handle of a 12-year-old troll or one of those robot toys we all wanted in the '90s that basically just taught you math.
5. If my sister destroyed my favorite skirt, I would probably murder her.
6. Aja has been on screen for 10 seconds and she is my favorite. Then again, I only watched this movie in the first place because I have a mad crush on Hayley Kiyoko, so take my opinions for what they are.
7. Come to think of it, there's at least a 12% chance I get bored and this just dissolves into me talking about how pretty she is.
8. Aunt Molly Ringwald has these girls trained to respond to a C-note like harmonizing Pavlovian dogs. Minus the drooling.
9. I have sisters and I don't care how many four-part harmonies you do, there's no way they aren't gonna just keep fighting as they walk up the stairs.
10. Jerrica's dad gave her a pair of giant pink earrings before he died. I wonder if those are going to be important …
11. Aja and Sasha basically just exist to think every idea is awesome. Also to be the rhythm section of the family band. Also to be not white.
12. This is a musically talented family full of attractive teenage girls who write songs and conveniently all play different instruments and they're JUST NOW thinking about starting a band?
13. We have our first TRULY OUTRAGEOUS. DRINK. (This is the only time anyone says this. I hope it was a big drink.)
14. Apparently, Aunt Molly Ringwald is broke and they're gonna lose the house if she doesn't make a very specific, difficult to reach, but not so difficult it won't suddenly be presented to them, amount of money in 30 days. This also apparently means that all the girls could be separated because of the aforementioned lack of adoption and WOW this got dark.
15. Dead dad also left Jerrica a broken robot. Can I just call it SYNERGY? Do I need the numbers? No? OK, I'm glad we agree.
16. I'm kind of unclear as to why Jerrica finally decides to record herself playing a song. I guess she's facing her fear of … cameras? Just cameras, though, 'cause she has no plan to do anything with this video.
17. Also, it's shot like maybe she's a very fancy hostage.
18. Damn, Audrey Peeples can SING.
19. Kimber is adorable but uploading a video you told someone you were deleting, no matter how well-meaning you are, is NOT COOL.
20. Aja is supposed to be some kind of crazy genius tech wizard or something (they depict this with books called "Hacking" and her poking at exposed circuitry) and yet you're telling me she's never randomly tried to make SYNERGY work?
21. Apparently, Jerrica is also afraid of the internet because her video has gone so viral it's in the news and she's still unaware that it exists.
22. Also, this world's YouTube is magic and you can upload videos without anyone knowing who you are.
23. "You're way more than Waterskiing Squirrel." I want that embroidered on a pillow. Bedazzled on a denim jacket. I want someone to whisper it in my ear when I'm feeling particularly crappy. SCREW YOU, SQUIRREL, I AM AWESOME.
24. There's no way you convince me that Erica Raymond is actually doing this emailing herself. This is her assistant and that poop emoji definitely just got her fired.
25. Hang on, Juliette Lewis is here. This is suddenly a totally different movie.
26. The robot is apparently not broken. It just needed to be in Los Angeles. Hang on, why did she bring the broken robot on this musical road trip? Jerrica is bad at packing.
27. This is Rio. He has a stupid name and he's kind of a dick. Naturally, he and Jerrica are going to fall in love.
28. Juliette Lewis is literally the only person who knows what movie she's in. She hasn't stopped chewing the scenery since she got here.
29. For the record, Kimber is also a stupid name.
30. MAKEOVER MONTAGE. I hate girly things but these always looked like fun. There would be a lot more falling, though, cause I cannot walk in anything taller than a flat.
31. SYNERGY beatboxes. I'm done.
32. This has gone from being a movie about a bunch of teenage girls becoming rock stars to a weird, music-based scavenger hunt around L.A.?
33. The water off the Santa Monica Pier is apparently magic. We are all mermaids now.
34. We're all damp and sitting under a pier in the middle of the night so obviously, it's time to BREAK INTO SONG.
35. I believe that these girls could randomly harmonize on the beach with no prompting, but it is literally impossible to make up a song on the spot without telepathy. DO THEY HAVE TELEPATHY?
36. This song, when they're walking down the red carpet, is literally about masturbation. I don't want to tell the music supervisor how to do their job, but, like, seriously. The song isn't even pretending to be about something else.
37. No one knows who Jem is, I get that, but the band is literally made up of her sisters. These reporters are bad at their jobs.
38. OK, this movie is stupid, but the songs are actually good? Like, I would probably listen to Jem & the Holograms if they were an actual band.
39. We've officially seen Aja play drums more than Shana, who is the actual drummer. As someone who pretends to be a musician, this bothers me. As someone who really likes drummers and bass players, not so much.
40. I love a conveniently timed power outage. And a conveniently placed guitar that used to be owned by your dead dad which has presumably been affixed to the wall of this establishment for 10 years and yet is perfectly tuned.
41. This movie desperately wants to be about the internet and the lifecycle of a meme and the artist vs. the persona and how the internet allows us an anonymity that can let us be ourselves while also consuming our identity in the process but it can only manage to do it for about 30 seconds at a time. For the record, that is a better movie than the robot scavenger hunt.
42. I don't know about you, but I make all my Skype calls on the kitchen floor.
43. Juliette Lewis just became the villain and made Jerrica turn on her sisters and go solo in five minutes and WHY WASN'T THIS THE WHOLE MOVIE?!
44. Aaaaaaaand we're back to the sad mopey scavenger hunt.
45. It's been literally five minutes and the conflict between the four of them is over. They're acting like it's been years.
46. Apparently, the final piece of the robot is Jerrica's giant pink earrings which are conveniently… locked in Erica's safe … for some reason … because plot?
47. YOU ARE STARLIGHT'S BIGGEST ACT YOU DO NOT NEED TO SNEAK IN IN THE TRUNK OF A STOLEN CAR.
48. So before he died, their dad built a robot, put together an entire, intricate scavenger hunt all over Los Angeles, and recorded a GIANT HOLOGRAM MESSAGE all to say goodbye to Jerrica. YOU HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS, DUDE.
49. Kimber's not even there to watch this message because literally no one cares about her.
50. These girls have glitter all up in their hair and all I can think is "that sh*t's never coming out."
51. Apparently, Rio's dad's will gives Rio the company "when he feels like he's ready," which really just seems like poor decision making. Lawyers in this universe are also bad at their jobs.
52. So after you sit through this entire movie that can't decide which of three different movies it is you get a post-credits scene in which Erica Raymond tracks down the Misfits in their burned-out trailer where they're living? I don't know but Pizazz is played by Kesha and WHY ARE WE JUST MEETING THEM NOW?!?!
53. Honestly the worst part of this movie is the fact that it bombed so hard that we're never gonna get the Jem/Misfits Battle of the Bands sequel we deserve (in which Kimber finally gets fed up with everyone forgetting she exists and she and Stormer fall in love and run off to start their own band with nothing but keytars and like one girl who plays the tambourine, but only because her uncle is some kind of big music executive and he promised to listen to their demo if they let her in the band).