Jem and the Holograms

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I wasn’t familiar with the ‘80s cartoon I wish I didn’t get familiar with this movie. It’s awful. If you aren’t a girl from the ages 8 to 13, this movie isn’t for you.

The singer is played by Aubrey Peeples, who is cute and talented enough, but she’s , not given a good script. It’s a shame, because the message the film has is a good one.

Actress Juliette Lewis plays the evil manager. I’ve seen her perform her punk songs live, and she’s amazing. She’s a mix of Patti Smith/Joan Jett, and can really rock. She plays an evil agent perfectly, but again…the script given her is awful. I’d think she’d be smart enough to help them come up with something a little better. Remember, as a teenager, she’s the one that improvised the thumb sucking scene with De Niro in Cape Fear.

We realize she’s bad news from the beginning, yet you wonder why Jem’s aunt (played by Molly Ringwald), wouldn’t ask more questions, or wonder why she isn’t nicer.

Her son is the “college intern” who watches after the girls. He’s the exact opposite, which of course means, there will be conflict with mommie dearest.

So here’s the premise. The aunt is taking care of the two sisters after their dad died. I’m not sure what happened to mom. Maybe the movie told us, but I don’t remember. Jem is told her songs are brilliant, but she does nothing with them. You know those moody, shy artists. Yet one day she records one, wants to delete it, and the sneaky sister posts it online. Of course, she’s an instant sensation.

The aunt has two foster kids, one of which is trouble. Yet the audience laughs when she’s making out with guys outside the house, or stealing money out of wallets. Oh, kids! She’s just being a rebel.

Oh, there’s also this subplot involving a robot their dad created. It’s like the one we saw last year that the teens find in Earth to Echo, and it is giving them bizarre clues that have them going all over L.A. to find. The robot also likes to dance when the girls sing their songs, or roll away when the evil manager enters the room. The 10-year-olds at the screening laughed at those scenes.

The songs? They’re not the least bit catchy.

The production values look cheap, with a lot of hand-held camera footage, and close-ups of written posts on various social media. One cute scene involves a few negative posts and how Jem reacts to them.

You also get the usual cliches of screaming fans begging for autographs, and lots of flashbulbs on cameras — which makes little sense, since their rise to fame happens in such a quick fashion. This isn’t One Direction showing up at a stadium. Again, it’s appealing to 10-year-old girls, and that aspect won’t matter to them.

I was a bit confused as to why Lewis barks at them about rehearsing, yet they never do. She is so into what outfits they’ll wear on stage, etc…you’d think she’d have a team of songwriters giving them material or working directly with them.

There were just so many lame things about this movie, and it started right from the get go. Jem is looking into the camera, discussing her fame, and saying that she was somebody “nobody even knew I existed.”

Really? Even in a small town, I’m guessing the cute girls don’t have a problem with people knowing they exist.

The movie also doesn’t let us learn enough about the characters to really care about them.

Director Jon M. Chu had previously directed Justin Bieber’s concert documentary Never Say Never, so he was probably the right choice for this. It’s just a shame he couldn’t give the movie some soul.

This is strictly for the younger teen girls, or people that like watching teen girls prance around; or, you think tiny robots beeping are adorable.

It gets ½ a star out of 5.