Jem and The Holograms (2015) Review — Worst Adaptation Ever?

Well it’s up there at least.

  • You’re probably wondering to yourselves why I’m bothering to review this movie given how people didn’t care about it when it came out and they definitely don’t care about it now. Well, I’ve been curious for a while regarding Jem and the Holgrams’ reputation as one of the worst adaptations of “anything” of all-time, and while I never even heard of this show until I saw 80s fans on my Twitter feed lambast the trailer, when something is considered a legendarily bad adaptation, that generally means that even if you didn’t look at the original source material, you’ll hate it with a passion.
  • As someone who watches lots of bad anime adapted from light novels, video games, manga, and the occasional regular novel, I’m pretty used to that sort of thing. And I admit, there’s a certain catharsis to summoning up hatred for shows that you’ve never interacted with the source material for. It means you can be completely fair in calling out an adaptation’s faults without all the unnecessary baggage that prior history draws in.
  • Remember when I reviewed Big Order and how I never once mentioned it was by the Future Diary team? Or how I reviewed Rewrite and aside from mentioning how the route endings usually are, I never once brought up that I actually played that game? I did that on purpose, because I don’t see the point in mentioning that sort of stuff when any sane person with working eyes can clearly see that those shows sucked. And the same is true here. I don’t need to have seen the original 80s show to know that Jem and the Holgrams is bad? You know why it’s bad? It’s bad because it sucks!

Molly Ringwald is in this movie. Yes you can cry now.

  • Jem and the Holgrams is about a young girl named Jerrica Benton, who lives with her aunt and a bunch of other girls in a house that’s about to be auctioned off because we need some sort of conflict to drive the plot, now don’t we? After a video of her playing the guitar whilst disguised as a character she named Jem gets posted on Youtube, it becomes a huge hit (and like most music artists discovered through Youtube, her actual skills are very mediocre), causing her to get offered a record deal whilst bringing her younger sister and foster ones along for the ride.
  • From there, the plot pretty much hits every basic note you can think of in regards to these type of up-and-coming young pop artist stories from the hot guy falling in love with the main girl to the main theme that record companies are corporate monsters, which is very ironic considering where this movie came from. Everything is just on auto-pilot. Far from not having anything to do with the original cartoon, this movie doesn’t have a single original or inspired idea going for it.
  • You can easily predict what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and it does it in a really lazy way. For instance, the characters try to break into a building at one point through a lame distraction ploy thanks to the cops being within earshot of all the noise going on behind them, yet they never notice anything. And to make things even more confusing, said building belongs to the agency that Jem is contracted under and she’s pretty famous at that point, so why couldn’t she have just asked the cops to let her in?
  • Another instance of lazy plotting is when Jem signs a solo contract in order to raise the money to help save her house. Her family instantly turns on her for shutting them out despite her reason for doing so being pretty sold (plus we never really get to know Jem’s foster sisters and their music sucked, so why should I care?), only to forgive her a few hours later due to them humming a tune. I wish I was kidding.

I think the robot in the Rocky films looked more at home than this dude

  • There’s also a subplot regarding the robot, 51N3RG.Y (pronounced synergy), who is pretty much reduced to being a basic plot device for a useless subplot regarding Jem’s father and how she has to put the machine’s parts in different states to receive a final holographic message that has absolutely nothing to do with all the music stuff. Also, that robot is technologically advanced. Couldn’t Jem have sold it in order to save her house?
  • And why exactly did Jem’s father make a scavenger hunt in various corners of the US for his eldest daughter (he ignores his younger daughter in his holographic messages for some reason) right before he died anyways? Did he read the script ahead of time and thought Jem’s future predicaments weren’t exciting enough?
  • I could go on about the weak villain. The unabashed sequel-bait ending that makes the one in the live-action Last Airbender movie look like the one in Empire Strikes Back. The multiple Youtube videos used to pad out the runtime. The awful AWFUL pandering to millenials in general. But seriously, why should I raise that much effort for a film so lazily put together in concept, direction, acting, respecting the fans, AND the music? Y’know, the main thing Jem is supposed to be centered on?
  • Jem and the Holgrams deserved the poor box office performance it got. I’ve been told that the director is a fan of the show, but this cannot be what he envisioned if that’s true. It’s not like Last Airbender or those Transformers movies where people went to see them despite knowing they weren’t going to like it. Jem doesn’t even try to give the fans something they recognize. The stakes are incredibly low, the crafting is poor, the songs are mediocre, the characters are stereotypes, and the pandering to the millenial generation doesn’t even make millenials happy.

That cartoon in the background is all I’ve seen of the original show

  • The worst thing about the film though is how it manipulates fan footage of people praising the show in order to make it seem like they’re talking about the Jem in this movie. I talked about this with a friend of mine who’s never seen this thing, and when I brought up that this piece of shit did that, she agreed that it was a low blow. Especially considering it’s clear as day what Jem the fans are talking about given how the cartoon is in the background. In horrible 80s animation to boot.

Minor Quips

  • Who exactly thought splicing that footage of Chris Pratt saying he loved Jem was a good idea?
  • Josie and the Pussycats’ live-action movie adaptation had more dignity than this abomination.

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