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Film / Jem and the Holograms (2015)

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Jem and the Holograms is a 2015 film that is truly, truly, truly loosely based on the '80s cartoon of the same name and the very first film by Hasbro's "Allspark Pictures" studio.

The film centers on Jerrica Benton, who gets popular when her sister Kimber uploads a video of her singing to YouTube. This leads to Jerrica and her sisters getting a recording contract. Also, there's a little robot named Synergy, whose parts are scattered all over the place.

Jem and the Holograms provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: While she's still pretty awful, Erica Raymond isn't quite the Corrupt Corporate Executive who regularly endangered the heroes' lives that her animated counterpart was.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Synergy isn't exactly an Artificial Intelligence or a Parental Substitute that Jem depended on like in the original cartoon, but more or less a wacky Robot Buddy.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Jerrica is blonde in the cartoon but is brunette here. In a different case, Jem performs entirely with pink hair, but here she performs with blonde, white and pink at different times.
    • Rio has purple hair in the cartoon but is brunette in the film.
    • Aja is the only Hologram who fully keeps her cartoon hair colour (blue), with purple haired Shana having black hair in the film, and redheaded Kimber being a blonde. They do have streaks of their cartoon colours during a show, though, as a sort of Mythology Gag.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Aja mentions going to juvie. It's never mentioned why she went there, but it's still off for the stick-to-the-rules Only Sane Man Aja from the cartoon.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the cartoon Kimber is the Daddy's Girl who is closest to their father. In this film, he had a stronger bond with Jerrica.
    • Rio and Jem meet later in life then they did in the cartoon. They also aren't love interests in the film.
    • Shana and Aja aren't particularly close to Jerrica and Kimber at the start. In the original cartoon, they've been Childhood Friends for years. Complicating things, they were technically Jerrica and Kimber's foster-sisters in the original, but are now they're adoptive cousins (by virtue of Ms. Bailey being rewritten as their aunt.)
  • Adapted Out: A large portion of the extended cast is not present. The Misfits just narrowly avoid this by appearing in The Stinger.
  • Advertising by Association: The film says in the trailer that it's "From the studionote  that brought you Pitch Perfect and the director of Never Say Nevernote ."
  • Age Lift: Jerrica is in her early twenties in the cartoon. Here she and the rest of the Holograms are teenagers.
  • Anachronism Stew / Present-Day Past: In the home movies from the late '90s, Jerrica and Kimber are shown playing with My Little Pony toys… from the 2010 incarnation of the series.
  • Artistic License:
    • Jerrica becomes a web sensation after she uploads one video that only gets 36,000 views. In the world of YouTube 36,000 hits on a video is certainly an achievement but wouldn't be considered very much in the grand scheme of things, and while Erica Raymond could be looking out for new talent, it's odd that one video would produce legions of screaming fans that show up for the first concert. She also goes viral from a single acoustic performance of an original song. While acoustic songs sometimes do trend and yield surprise hits, it's usually cover performances related to some other media trending and rarely an original work.
    • Erica convinces Jerrica to ditch her bandmates and sign a contract for a solo career, but even a cursory view of the signing scene reveals a number of errors. Multiple reviews have pointed out that there is no contract that would only need to be signed just on the front page - most modern contracts require the signer to read through the document and sign/initial each page so that they understand what is being said. No lawyer is present for the signing, and Jerrica apparently waives away any sort of royalties or income until an unspecified point in time after her tour is completed. Additionally, Jerrica simply signs the document as "Jem", her stage alias. Not only is this absurd, but it wouldn't even hold up in court - Jerrica could simply claim that the signature isn't hers.
  • Beard of Evil: Zipper is depicted with a beard in this continuity.
  • Be Yourself: The movie's message, which is somewhat hypocritical since it is an In Name Only adaptation.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jerrica's earrings are the last piece needed to activate Synergy.
  • Chromosome Casting: Almost the entire cast, save for 1-4 characters, is female. Even Erica is a gender-swapped version of Eric Raymond from the cartoon.
  • Conflict Ball: Erica is dead set on having Jem be a solo act, despite the concerts being popular either way.
    • In addition to that, Jerrica doesn't even attempt to find a solution to her family's financial woes. So she signs up for being a solo act and doesn't even attempt to explain her reasoning, so the other bandmates hate her and quit. Just think of all the moping that could have been avoided if she just explained that she was trying to save the house.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The second piece of Synergy is located in a random acoustic guitar that's placed on a wall with other guitars in the club where the group first performs. Additionally, Jerrica only bothers to pick out this random guitar because the power goes out (for unexplained reasons) and she decides to play some acoustic songs to pass the time. The film later attempts to justify this by having the video of her father explain that he wanted to take her there when she was older, meaning she never would gone there in the first place had she not become famous.
  • Costume Porn: The outfits worn by the band are at least as elaborate as in the cartoon.
  • Creator Cameo: Christy Marx, creator of the original cartoon, cameos near the end as Lind-Z.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Many note how the film is less of a Jem movie and more of a gender-swapped Justin Bieber movie. Also helping the comparison is that director Jon M. Chu previously directed two documentaries about Bieber, and producer Scooter Braun is also Bieber's manager.
  • Dull Surprise: Poor, poor Molly Ringwald.
  • Ephebophile: Chris Pratt, who claims in an interview that he dated the teenage Jem.note 
  • Feet-First Introduction: Happens when Erica Raymond is introduced in the film.
  • Flat Character: Almost half the main cast have absolutely nothing going on and never gain a proper origin story.
  • Foster Kid: Both Shanna and Aja are being fostered by Aunt Bailey.
  • Gender Flip: The cartoon has ruthless band manager Eric Raymond. In the movie, Juliette Lewis plays ruthless band manager Erica Raymond.
  • Genki Girl: Kimber is hyperactive and can rarely hold still.
  • Genre Shift: The cartoon was very campy and goofy, whereas the film is a Coming of Age Story.
  • Idiot Ball: Jem and the Holograms need to acquire special earrings from Erica's office. Instead of asking security to let them in since they are recognizable pop stars who work for Erica and are friends with her son, they choose to break in using a complex plan.
  • Informed Attribute: Jem and the Holograms are said to be the biggest pop stars in the world. In spite of this, we only see the band play in a small club and a warehouse to a handful of people. Meanwhile, Erica Raymond was mentioned in dialogue as somebody who creates soulless music. The audience never gets to see any of this.
  • In Name Only: There's a singer named Jem, there's a band called The Holograms, there's a character named Synergy, and the Misfits appear at the very end quoting a line from the original Jem theme song. The similarities to the original cartoon pretty much end there.
  • Instant Web Hit: Jerrica became one of the world's biggest celebrities thanks to a video of her playing acoustic guitar in her bedroom. Strangely enough, said video only had 36,000 views, which is considered small potatoes on YouTube.
  • It's Personal: The only reason Pizazz agreed to accept Erica's offer is because Rio is dating some other girl.
  • Just Eat Gilligan:
    • In order to fix Synergy, Jem and her friends need to get Jem's earrings back from Erica Raymond's safe. So they sneak into the building and break into the safe, despite the fact that, in addition to a number of reasons to why they wouldn't need to sneak into the building, there's no reason why they couldn't just ask Erica to give them back the earrings as she has no reason to want to keep them. This only happens so that they can find Rio's father's will that explains that he's the real owner of Starlight Records.
    • Several reviews pointed out that Jem's fame meant she had other ways to get the money to needed to save her aunt's house beside selling out to Erica. She could have avoided signing the contract with Erica completely and sold music on her own through a music provider like iTunes, monetized her Youtube videos for the next month to start raising money, booked shows herself, or raised funds by selling autographs, other memorabilia or via a crowd-funding service.
    • It's also been pointed out in reviews that Jerrica and her sisters have access to Synergy, a groundbreaking AI companion who uses technology that appears to be far beyond anything that currently exists in the film's world. Licensing out this technology to an interested developer or tech company also would have netted them the money they needed to save the house.
  • Manipulative Editing:
    • The film features a number of YouTube videos of people talking how much they love Jem. These are from a contest the film held asking fans to make videos about why they love the series, meaning they were talking about any other incarnation of the series but this one. Made especially evident by the fact that they showed off merchandise from the franchise, including the TV show playing in some of the videos.
    • Likewise, the clip of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson praising the band's song "Young Blood" is actually taken from a Vine of him talking about Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood". See also Quote Mine below.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In The Stinger, The Misfits appear and Pizzazz says "Our songs are better, we're gonna get her." This references a line from the classic Jem theme song.
    • When Jerrica is trying on her costume for the first time, Kimber tells her that she looks "truly, truly, truly outrageous."
    • Astral Records shares its name with One-Shot Character Astral from the cartoon.
    • When the girls move into Starlight Mansion, Rio tells Jerrica to call him if "the place is on fire." The original Starlight House did catch on fire in the cartoon, necessitating the move to Starlight Mansion.
    • "Show's over Synergy, what else you got?"
    • While cheering up Jerrica, Rio says that Jem is "glamour, glitter, fashion, and fame."
  • Never Going Back to Prison: While breaking into a pier after-hours, Aja worriedly declares that she can't go back to juvie. Many critics wished they could see the story behind that instead of the film.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: The whole reason Erica Raymond is the CEO of Starlight Music is because she inherited it from her late husband rather then succeeding because of any of her own merits.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Google Earth is used in the Travel Montages, complete with the Google logo and copyright in some shots.
  • Parental Favoritism: Jerrica's father's final message to his daughters is a speech about much he loves Jerrica, without ever even mentioning Kimber by name except until the end. Ouch.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Erica Raymond's safe password is "erica.raymond".
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: As a result of Jerrica being blackmailed into signing a solo contract.
  • Quote Mine: All of the celebrity "cameos" are from out-of-context sources:
  • Race Lift:
    • Shana goes from definitely black to being Ambiguously Brown (played by a half-black and half-white actress).
    • Rio was Latino in the cartoon but - as he's Erica's son now - he's presumably half Latino like his actor Ryan Guzman (who is half-Mexican on his father's side).
    • Aja, too, was Chinese (except for one episode that implied she has Japanese ancestry) in the cartoon but is here played by half-Japanese half-white (and left-handed) Hayley Kiyoko.
    • Roxy was Italian American in the cartoon, but is Italian-Korean here.
    • Jetta was British in the cartoon, but is here Latina.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: So Jerrica's father invented a robot that is both sentient and able to project holograms of videos and maps. If he (or Jerrica) had patented the robot or sold it to an electronics company to be mass-produced, their financial worries would be over.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • Bailey is just the girls' house mother in the cartoon. Now she's Jerrica and Kimber's aunt, as well as Shana and Aja's foster mother.
    • Rio is now the son of Erica Raymond and the deceased owner of Starlight Enterprises.
  • Remake Cameo: Samantha Newark, the original voice of Jerrica, makes a cameo as a hairstylist complimenting Jem's pink wig. Jem's singing voice Britta Philips also cameos as a stage manager.
  • Sequel Hook: Erica approaches The Misfits and convinces them to take Jem down.
  • The Stinger: The Misfits appear in a brief post-credits scene.
  • The Unfavorite: Kimber wasn't as cherished by her father as Jerrica was, at least going by Jerrica being the only one their father's recording specifically mentions.
  • Voodoo Shark: The ending montage (whether by directorial intent or not) establishes that the 80's animated series apparently exists in this universe, as multiple fans are shown playing with Jem toys or have Jem and the Holograms posters in their rooms. While this is ostensibly done to establish how popular the live-action version of the character has become, it raises a number of unfortunate problems; namely, if Jem and the Holograms are established as an in-universe property, how does Erica expect to sign an act that calls themselves the exact same thing (more of an in-universe Ashcan Copy) without running into legal problems?
  • You Don't Look Like You: The movie's Synergy, a Robot Buddy, is a far cry from the show's, who was an Artificial Intelligence who served as the mentor and was capable of generating incredibly advanced holograms.

Alternative Title(s): Jem And The Holograms