Jem and the Holograms is here. Gird your loins, a live-action “Jem and the Holograms” movie is happening. The film will be directed by Jon M Chu, the genius behind “Step Up” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.“His producing partners include Jason Blum (“Paranormal Activity”) and Justin Bieber’s producer Scooter Braun. It’s random that one of the most iconic toys and television shows for girls (and boys) is being helmed by all men. Their open social media approach to the production is getting the film major buzz. The 1980s cartoon was a bubble-gum take on punk right down to Jem’s signature pink hair and matching Rockin’ Roadster.
One of the challenges to remaking “Jem” is the premise is cuckoo bananas. Jerrica Benton’s father dies and leaves her with 50% controlling interest in his record company. He also leaves her with a foster home for girls. Then, she finds a secret lab filled with women’s clothes, pink musical instruments, a pink Rolls-Royce and a supercomputer. This supercomputer, Synergy, creates realistic holograms. The biggest question of the show is why did her father have all this? Did he have a double life? Was he hoping to use Synergy to live as a woman? For her father to amass all of that in a secret lair as some elaborate post-mortem “gift” to his daughter is a little far-fetched. Luckily, through the rose-colored glasses of the 1980s people rarely delve that deep.
This series is basically “Hannah Montana” meets the Al Pacino film “Simone.” Jerrica creates the alter ego of rock star Jem. Doesn’t it sound like a certain Stefani Germanotta who created Lady Gaga? Jem and her friends, who are all strangely orphans at her father’s home, are also, coincidentally, great at playing music. Their “enemies” are the ill-behaved, kind of skanky, yet slightly cooler Misfits. Pizzazz and sleazy producer Eric Raymond are constantly trying to destroy Jem. The series also went slightly off the rails with Jem’s various concerts being the site of diamond smuggling and terrorist plots that she needs to undermine using Synergy and her hologram-projecting earrings.
To really do the film justice, it should have a young cast. That would allow the film to create buzz from their fan base, allow producers to save money for the requisite special effects, and to allow for the suspension of disbelief. Casting Jennifer Lawrence as Jem would be a coup, but then all of America would be wondering what the hell this movie is about. Casting Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande as Jerrica and her sister Kimber, respectively, would allow for a little of the Disney/Nickelodeon magic to wash away the harsh reality that the plot is a bit of a fever dream. Also, casting Latinos would also open up the film to the Latino market. Kat Graham and Hana Mae Lee would be great additions as Jem’s multicultural bandmates Shana and Aja. Yes … the Asian character’s name is Aja (#80sracism). Austin Butler or Chord Overstreet would be a great fit for Jerrica’s boyfriend, Rio. Either would work since they look exactly the same and would look very interesting with purple hair.
For Jem’s villains, what better stunt casting than Lindsay Lohan! Stormer is a raspy-voiced, blue-haired follower who secretly loves Jem and the Holograms but is constantly under Pizzazz’s thumb. Taylor Momsen, who doesn’t seem to have many job prospects post-“Gossip Girl,” would be great as mean girl Pizzazz. Naya Rivera could also be great for mean girl Roxy. As for Synergy, a real coup would be to get Lady Gaga. Since she’s mostly seen on a screen or as a superimposed image, she can film her segments from her tour bus or the secret room in her house where she wakes up from a life-size womb and crabwalks around the house.
Jem has major potential to cash in on nostalgia, product tie-ins and a kick-ass soundtrack. However, if we can learn anything from the film adaptation of “Josie and the Pussycats,” and there really is only one thing, it’s that a high-profile version of a cartoon needs a sense of humor, not big blockbuster clichés, if it doesn’t want to end up an epic fail.