In Brief: Jem and the Holograms

1280x720-yMRCapsuled for the current issue of Empire magazine:

Truly outrageous in all the wrong ways, this big screen adaptation of Jem and the Holograms makes the classic mistake of equating “keeping it real” with truth, misunderstanding the transformative nature of performance and eviscerating the fantasy empowerment that made its ’80s cartoon ancestor a cult touchstone. Reimagining Jerrica Benton (Peeples) and her band as overnight internet stars, 2015’s Jem awkwardly leeches off the perceived zeitgeist (YouTube, Instagram) and tosses passing scraps to period nostalgia (Molly Ringwald, Synergy recast as robot sidekick), while forging a dreary morality tale that feels patterned after the sharper and more cynical likes of Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains and Josie and the Pussycats (Lewis, incidentally, is no Parker Posey.) Despite its feigned realism, the film only catches fire during the too-sporadic musical moments, when the electric artifice threatens to overpower the embarrassing authenticity; something the filmmakers seem to fundamentally miss.

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