‘Jem and the Holograms’ is anything but a gem
Hasbro Studios has made a mint over the past decade turning recognizable toys and cartoons into bad movies, but it’s hard to understand exactly who the studio is expecting to show up for “Jem and the Holograms.”
The film adapts the hit ’80s cartoon and toy line “Jem,” in the sense that there is still a main character named Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) who lives a double life as the titular rock star. This Jerrica, though, is an insecure millennial who achieves sudden fame when her sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott), secretly uploads a video of her singing to YouTube. Jerrica must contend with the pressures of celebrity and music-biz greed, even as she follows a series of clues her deceased father left behind so she could complete the robot he was building for her.
Wait, what? A robot? The diminutive droid, named S1N3RGY, is perhaps the most awkward remnant of the film’s source material. In the original TV series, the more conventionally-spelled Synergy was a computer that could project holograms to turn Jerrica into Jem. Here, S1N3RGY feels like a wildly incongruous afterthought in a movie that mostly dumps the TV show’s singular sci-fi-tinged flamboyance to create a cloying contemporary teen flick about finding companionship through music and social media.
Hasbro’s two biggest successes, the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” franchises, capitalized on decades-old products that had nonetheless maintained longevity through revivals on TV and toy store shelves. But “Jem” attempts to update a property that’s been defunct and essentially forgotten since the late ’80s. Hardcore fans won’t find much of the Jem they loved under the movie’s achingly hip millennial trappings, while young newcomers will be left wondering what a robot has to do with a rock band.
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer
‘Jem and the Holograms’
Rated PG for thematic material including reckless behavior, brief suggestive content and some language
Running time: 118 minutes