Jem and the Holograms is the latest 1980s kids property to have been dusted off and given a fresh live-action film makeover by Hollywood. The Jem brand, for those unfamiliar, began with an animated TV series that was created by Christy Marx – who also wrote for such cartoon TV shows as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and G.I. Joe during the ’80s – and ran from 1985-88.
The Jem and the Holograms television program revolves around Jerrica Benton, the owner and manager of a successful company (called Starlight Music) whose alter ego is Jem – a colorful musical superstar whom Jerrica creates partially by way of a holographic computer called Synergy. However, in the upcoming live-action film, Jerrica is no longer an accomplished professional with a secret identity; rather, she’s an orphaned teenager (played by Nashville‘s Aubrey Peeples) who finds herself on the fast track to success when a recording of her singing goes viral.
Juliette Lewis costars in Jem and the Holograms as Starlight Enterprises music executive Erica Raymond – a gender-swapped version of Eric Raymond from the Jem cartoon series – while 1980s icon Molly Ringwald is Mrs. Bailey, the caretaker for Jerrica and her sisters-turned bandmates: Kimber (Stefanie Scott), Aja (Hayley Kiyoko), and Shana (Aurora Perrineau). Rounding out the film’s ensemble is Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars, the upcoming Heroes: Reborn) as Rio Pacheco, Jerrica’s romantic interest.
You can watch the official Jem and the Holograms trailer above (via BuzzFeed); then, check out the movie’s poster, below.
Production on Jem and the Holograms went on for a month (back in 2014) at a cost of approximately $5 million… and, sorry to say, that shows in the trailer footage. The movie’s visuals don’t even seem appropriately stylized for a modern-day take on Jem, which is all the more surprising considering that helmsman Jon M. Chu’s previous directorial efforts were certainly flashy-looking, if nothing else (see: Step Up Revolution, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Meanwhile, the screen story and script by Ryan Landels (The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) appears to rely upon just about every tired showbiz story trope in the book.
To be fair, there is potential for Jem and the Holograms to provide some interesting commentary on how artists quickly become commodities in the 21st century. Similarly, a 2015 Jem feature that’s more true to the 1980s cartoon show’s campiness might come off more as kitschy than the approach used here – and members of Generation Z (who’re likely unfamiliar with the original cartoon series, anyway) are the ones that this movie is meant for, all the same.
Still, for the time being, it’s hard not to suspect this film will amount to little more than a cynical attempt to cash in on a nostalgia brand (and appeal to youngsters at the same time).
Jem and the Holograms opens in U.S. theaters on October 23rd, 2015.