Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Jem and the Holograms (2015)

Jem and the Holograms Review

I don’t own this trailer.

Honestly, when I saw the trailers for this movie, I knew it was based off an 80s cartoon but I didn’t think it would be anything special. It turned out not being anything special.
Jem and the Holograms is about a teenage girl named Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) who is too shy to sing outside of the comfort of her bedroom. After learning that she, her sister, two adopted sisters and her aunt would be losing their house she releases pent up frustration through an original song and records it with her younger sister’s camera going by the pseudo name “Jem”. Her younger sister uploads it no YouTube and it immediately gains popularity, enough that she is noticed by Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), the CEO of Starlight Records. She and her sisters become performers under Erica Raymond’s direction, with their first pop up concert. While they are performing there is a side plot where Jerrica’s father left behind this robot 51nergy (Synergy) that turns on when they whistle a specific tune. It leads them to clues left by her deceased father. Clues to places he always wanted to take her.
This is your basic “rise to stardom”, “finding your true voice” or an “origin story” of sorts as this is set before the animated show being as they are younger compared to the characters in the show. It uses the platform of a nostalgic show to tell that story. Unfortunately, as a package it’s not very good but it has some good moments.
  • The three songs that are actually performed by Jem, “Youngblood”, “The Way I Was”, and “I’m Still Here” are pretty good and extremely catchy. I watched this movie twice and both times “Youngblood” remained with me due to it sticking to my brain. If I heard them on the radio, I’d probably end up liking them due to their catchiness and listen to them when they came on.
  • Aubrey Peeples has a nice singing voice even though there’s not a lot of actual songs in this movie. I actually was kind of partial to the tidbits we got from her sister a bit more.
  • Instead of using a soundtrack or music, they take videos from YouTube of people doing musical things and create background music that way. IE: There’s a scene where the video we see is a boy doing extreme clapping for music and they add a bass to it creating the music for the scene. I thought that was cool and original.
  • Molly Ringwald! Underused and almost made me wonder what she was doing in this movie in the first place lol.
  • This movie looks really good to be honest, I think that’s what puts it a bit above a TV film is the quality of how it looks.
  • Costumes. Some of them were really nice and cool. I think the one that I found the best is the one Jem wears during “The Way I Was”. It’s this beautiful silvery white dress, with the signature pink wig (that she really only wears once, the other parts have pink streaks/highlights in her hair).
  • Juliette Lewis is great and almost steals the scene every time she’s on it. She was definitely hamming it up for this part, but she was funny, charismatic and a little villainous.
  • The acting isn’t very good. The emotional moments weren’t emotional to me and it didn’t seem very natural at times. This is pretty much Peeples’ first lead role, as she has made television appearances, and while she was fine, the singing/performing part was obviously more natural to her. There were a few missteps during the performances where she may have missed words or something.
    • The actresses playing the sisters were also just okay, two of them I have seen in previous shows or Disney Channel or Cartoon Network movies and the last girl was probably the weakest.
    • Ryan Guzman who played Rio, the love interest, is attractive but he not only physically looked too old to playing this character, especially next to Aubrey Peeples, he looked uninterested the entire time.
    • The dramatic scene where Jerrica’s sisters are upset kind of made me laugh. The acting wasn’t very good here, everyone’s upset and crying but I couldn’t feel sympathy for anyone. This is mentioned more in the next point.
  • The story is weak and has too many silly moments. There are five different plot points happening when there really only needed to be one, two at the most considering how simple the “rising to fame” storyline should be.
    • Jerrica is discovered on YouTube because she is technologically ignorant. She thought she deleted the video but didn’t. To be honest, there is no way she could have thought she actually deleted that thing. She didn’t even press the delete button.
    • It just so happens that her family is being evicted but it’s not explained why or what could be done about it. She just decides to take the “deal” offered by Starlight Records to help but nothing comes of it. They talk about using the money they would get after doing all three pop up concerts but it’s never said if they saved the house.
    • No one reads contracts. Aunt Bailey (Ringwald) is the legal guardian of these four girls, two of them are foster care and Jerrica and Kimber are her nieces. But when underage Jerrica makes the deal with Erica, there is no contract and later when (spoiler) Erica makes Jerrica go solo, she just signs the contact without reading it, or without involving her legal guardian.
    • No one communicates anything!! If she would have just told them the situation back home worsened, they might have understood. If she would have read and talked to her sisters before signing the contract, then this would have been different. But there would be no drama and no “redemption”.
    • The whole storyline with the robot could have been cut because it doesn’t add anything. I suppose it’s emotional and cute that her father left these clues for her to find by having this robot (that’s been cut off for years) suddenly come on at night in their new apartment once they get into LA. The reason being they must have tripped some type of GPS. What?? Lol. Or the fact that it communicates through music, but it also shows holograms of maps. Lol again… why??
      • Also her father sets up this whole map for places he wanted to take Jerrica. Every time she finds the place, there is a hidden computer chip or something (lol) and when she plugs it into Synergy it reveals another map. He also leaves a special holographic message for Jerrica… but did he remember he had another daughter? Kimber was present when they discovered the turned on robot and was present when they found the first two clues…why was she left out?
    • There is another side plot about Rio, his mother and a will from his deceased father. Completely unimportant that it’s randomly brought up near the end and I guess resolved hahahaha. But seriously, this plot point (if you cared enough about his character) and Jerrica and her sisters trying to remain true to themselves in this new world that wants to brand them should have been the only things going on.
  • The romance was lame and not fleshed out well.
    • Obviously there was going to be a romance in a movie like this, did there have to be? Nope. But as soon as Rio was introduced, it was obvious. I think the two leads are 22 and 27 respectively but he looks about 30 and she looks like a teenager which poses the question… just how old are they? I would assume she’s the oldest at 17 but how old is he?
    • It wasn’t interesting, there was no reason to root for them. At first there is sarcasm (as per usual) then he bonds with the girls over a song “We Got Heart” with terrible lip syncing from Ryan Guzman and he wants to help with their clues. He also the son of Erica Raymond. His name is Rio Raymond hahaha!
    • It should have remained a friendship because with everything else going on in this movie, the romance was shoehorned in there.
I didn’t hate Jem and the Holograms, or felt like I was suffering while watching. It was just okay. It wasn’t bad personally. I know I named a lot of cons, but the movie itself was okay for a watch. I was able to watch it twice but the second time I clinically watched it to really dig into those problems I noticed the first time. I had my 14-year-old sister watch it with me the second time. She liked it enough. It was pulled from theaters early due to empty seats and went straight to DVD and I think that happened because people wanted to boycott the film for obviously not being a live action version of the animated 80s show but an updated reboot of sorts. I don’t know anyone who actually saw it. It’s harmless.
The music is fun and catchy, Aubrey Peeples has a nice and distinct voice, it was exciting to see Molly Ringwald in a movie (though it probably didn’t need to be this one), Juliette Lewis was charismatic and funny in her role and it did look very good. However, this movie should have gotten another rewrite or an extreme editing session and released as a TV movie on Freeform formerly known as ABC Family.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

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