Jem and the Holograms was probably one of the biggest cartoon hits for girls on Saturday mornings starting in 1985.  Follow the cartoon up with the Hasbro release of the toys that were close to Barbie’s and you had my sisters childhood toys.  Yes, my sister had Jem dolls like most girls in the mid 80’s. The cartoon theme is below….

Director Jon Chu has brought us one weird adaptation of the 1980’s cartoon.  I think however he did a good job adapting the way our youth uses technology and the whole 30 years in different technology in the movie.  Going into the flick I wasn’t looking for anything special, just hoping my 11 year old daughter would enjoy it.  So let’s delve into this 80’s inspired flick.

Jerrica Benton (Aubry Peeples) is a teenager who ends up printing a band that includes her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott), and her two foster sisters Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrneau).  This is a change from the cartoon, but you can’t follow an 80’s cartoon to the T.  Their Aunt/Mother is Bailey (Molly Ringwald).  Bailey we learn is having trouble paying the bills and there is a chance that the sisters might be separated.  Jerrica records herself singing a song in a costume and her sister posts it on the web.

When they get up in the morning the video has gone viral and JEM Jerrica’s one nickname her late father called her, and the name she says in the video is an over night youtube sensation.  A high powered Music producer Erica Raymond (Julliette Lewis) offers Jerrica a chance of a lifetime.  From her entrance into the film walking up to Jerrica’s home in high heals kicking a skateboard along the way.  Erica makes a deal with Jerrica and her sisters they will be paid for three shows once the shows are finished.

Jem and the band travel to L.A. with Erica and meet Rio (Ryan Guzman) who has been put in charge of watching the girls and helping protect the mystery of Jem.  Yes, this does set up a love interest for the flick, and yes the tween girls will like this part of the story.  We also have Synergy, a robot that Jerrica and Kimber’s late father built that turns on when they hit L.A.  This brings a mystery and adventure side story to the main plot.

The flick is good, not great, and most critics are going to clam it I am sure.  It is not a flick for the critics, it is a flick for girls of all ages.  There is some really good songs, and all the girls and even Guzman can carry a tune.  There are enough laugh out loud moments for the girls, and yes the love story.  The main thing you parents will like about the flick is that there is a really great message.  This message is to be yourself, stay positive, and take chances.  The flick is also clean, no real cursing, no killing, no sex, and no real worry about your daughter seeing something they shouldn’t.

Peoples is great, and sometimes excellent, she is shy and outgoing all at once.  The girls in the flick and in the movie theater all live their lives on social media, and the flick uses some youtube videos to break up the tension and pull the tweens into the flick a little more.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t think the flick is a great flick with the plot, or consistency, and really there is very little conflict, but the flick is very sincere, and gives all the characters a personality.

I grade the flick for you adults…. don’t rent it… don’t go see it on your own D!  For you adults with kids ages 6 and up take them to the flick, watch them get a message they need to learn from the flick they will walk out of the flick wanting to be JEM for Halloween.  Just like most of the 1980 cartoons there is a great hidden message the kids will not only get, but enjoy the journey receiving the message.  For tweens it is an as my 11 year old says it solid A.

Brad Watts

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