In the late '90s, the Spice Girls were everywhere. The pop girl group from the UK included Victoria Adams ("Posh Spice", later known as Victoria Beckham), Melanie Brown ("Scary Spice"), Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice"), Melanie Chisholm ("Sporty Spice") and Geri Halliwell ("Ginger Spice"). They practically defined the term "overnight success", so when the idea arose to make a film based on their success, it was almost immediately greenlit. In late 1997, Spice World was released.
The film's plot bounces back and forth between being a Spiritual Successor to A Hard Day's Night and a Self-Deprecation of the Spice Girls and their fan following. Despite poor reviews from critics, it was adored by audiences, becoming a box office hit, and eventually earned cult classic status.
This film provides examples of:
- Absurdly Long Wait: Out of loyalty to their friend Nicola who is about to give birth, the girls stay by her side, even though they risk being late for their first live gig, for which the whole world is waiting.Geri: (on the phone) Hi, Clifford. No, I don't know what time we're going to be there! Look, the world can wait, this is more important!! It's about friendship and commitment, but you wouldn't know about that! I'll talk to you later, bye.
Clifford: (beside himself with impatience) It can't take this long to have a baby!
Piers: (a documentary maker, commentating dispassionately) He's about to crack up at any minute, the sheer tension...
(Clifford spits at Piers and his crew)
- Actor Allusion:
- The Spice Bus driver (Meat Loaf) saying "I'd do anything for [the Girls], but I won't do that."
- Roger Moore's character saying "There's no need for any stirring" as he is shaking a martini.
- Victoria snarking that Geri should remove her top to awaken a young boy from a coma could be seen as one to Geri Halliwell's stint as a topless model.
- Are We There Yet?: A plane is seen in the sky, with a voiceover of Clifford saying where they are going, and one of the girls says "are we there yet?". The same phrase is heard on the return journey.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the policeman stops the Girls outside Albert Hall, he lists their crimes as "Dangerous driving, criminal damage, flying a bus without a licence, and er... frightening the pigeons."
- Artistic License – Biology: At one point Ginger says the manta ray is the largest fish in the world. In reality, the whale shark is much bigger.
- As Himself: Sir Elton John, in a scene that... has no point except that he's there, really. Bob Geldofnote and Jonathan Ross also play themselves.
- Baby Fever Trigger:
- Bigger on the Inside: The Spice Bus, big enough for each girl to have her own area, with Clifford's balcony overseeing them.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: As the end credits start, the girls notice the audience, and start commenting on them.Emma: Look at all those people in there!
Victoria: Look at them two snogging at the back.
Mel C: I don't understand: why do people always sit there, and watch the credits go up?
Geri: It's probably the sad anticlimax: it's all over, back to reality.
Victoria: Hey you, behind you, next to you, to the left of you. I like your dress.
Emma: You know, some people are watching this on video. Is there nothing on telly, then?!
Geri: But you know what they're wondering now, don't you?
Mel C: What happened to the bomb on the bus?!
- Brick Joke: The bomb, which they see on the bus during the chase scene. They scream, but are too busy to do anything about it. The bomb explodes at the very end, during the closing credits.
- Calvinball: Mel B. doesn't really know how to play chess.Geri: Check!
Mel B: What d'you mean, "check"?
Geri: I mean, check; my bishop's got your king.
Mel B: Where?
Geri: There! You've either got to move it in front, or move it out of the way.
Mel B: Well I'll move that fairground horse to there. Sort that out!
Geri: You can't do that!
Mel B: Says who?
Geri: Says Mr. Chess! It's been in the rules for thousands of years!
Mel B: Well I'm gonna break the rules and set this little fairground horse free amongst all these little square fields, like that. (moves her piece randomly all around the board) There!Geri: I'm gonna slap you in a minute!
- Camp: The whole film runs on it, along with nonsense.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: When the Spice Girls have threatened not to turn up for their first ever live gig, their personal assistant Deborah tries to comfort their manager Clifford by saying she is glad they themselves are not famous.Deborah: If it makes you feel any better, I have a degree in politics, philosophy and economics, and I spend my entire life worrying about whether Mel C is wearing the right Nike Air Max. Mind you, I'd rather be us than the girls. Fame is such a fickle thing.
- Compliment Backfire: On purpose—Jools Holland tells them "Okay, girls, that was perfect... without actually being any good."
- Custom Uniform of Sexy: The Girls wear full-body army camouflage for Mr Step's assault course, except Victoria, who wears a very short army camouflage dress.
- Cuteness Proximity: Emma uses her smile and fluttering eyelashes to get the Girls out of trouble, when the police stop them outside the Albert Hall, just before their concert.
- Da Editor: Kevin McMaxford, a tabloid editor who wants to bring the Girls down. He gets extremely emotional, spitting when he rages and causing a storm to happen in the office.Kevin: Who's going to help me, Brad? (A storm rages, raining over him and Brad) Who's going to help me take on Girl Power, and bring it crashing and whimpering to the ground?
- Dartboard of Hate: When a tabloid headline appears featuring the girls, Clifford throws knives at it, muttering how much he hates the editor (his knives avoid the picture of the girls).
- Department of Redundancy Department: During a scene where Victoria is dressing:Posh: It's always the same. I never know what to wear.
Sporty: It must be so hard for you, Victoria. I mean, trying to decide whether to wear the little Gucci dress, the little Gucci dress, or... the little Gucci dress.
Baby: I know, why don't you wear the little Gucci dress?
Posh: That's a good idea. Thanks, Emma.
- Dramatic Alien VTOL: Just as the Girls run out of their tour bus to pee in the woods, an alien spaceship lands slowly, and four of their fans from outer space come out to greet them, asking for tickets to their live gig, autographs, and kisses.
- Dramatic Thunder: When the evil newspaper editor dramatically vows that he is going to take on Girl Power, and bring it crashing and whimpering to the ground, a dramatic thunderstorm happens inside the office.
- Dream Sequence: Quite a few. Who would have imagined them (all) actually becoming mothers?
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mr. Step. Well, kinda. ("DON'T GIVE ME ANY OF THAT JULIE ANDREWS HILLTOP CLAPTRAP!")
- Driven to Suicide: Clifford, almost, played for laughs. He despairs when the burned-out girls storm off after an argument and nearly don't turn up for a huge concert:Clifford: Okay. So this is the plan. The band starts up, the fans go wild, the lights come on, and I walk center stage...and hang myself.
- Drives Like Crazy: Victoria hijacks the bus to drive the girls to the concert. She almost hits two nuns in a car.Sunday drivers! It's only Saturday!
- Eyelash Fluttering: Emma flaps her eyelashes at the policeman when she is trying to get them let off for "flying a bus without a licence", among other things.
- Flashback Effect: When the girls wind up going their separate ways after an argument with their manager, their minds are shown going back to the exact same moment. Imagine them once being too nervous to perform for only two people! (It's "Wannabe", but with all of the other four following Mel B's lead on the chorus.)
- Formerly Fit: Played for laughs when the girls imagine themselves as mothers, and Mel C (Sporty Spice) is very fat, and on an exercise bike.
- Funny Background Event: While the girls are loyally waiting for Nicola to give birth, a nurse comments that she is off to see the Spice Girls' show, and that she'd better get a move on.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Emma, being the girliest of the group, has quite a few.In my bed, I've got two teddies, I've got a rabbit, I've got two dollies, and one Susan, she's got a bad eye...and then I've got a green giraffe which I won at a fair, he was the only one left, I felt really sorry for him... then there's Buzz, Woody, the alien, and then I've got a fluffy pink hot water bottle. So, there's just not enough room for you, mate! (She pats the bare-chested dancer on the arm, then withdraws her hand in disgust)
- Howl of Sorrow: Clifford does this after the Spice Girls have stormed off the stage, the day before their first live concert.Geri: I hope you know you what you're doing, because if you're looking for a fight, you're gonna lose. (storms out)
Clifford: (to Deborah, the Girls' personal assistant) So what do you think?
Deborah: I think you definitely, definitely lost.
Clifford: I think I may have started the break-up of the Spice Girls.
(Deborah exits, leaving Clifford to howl in sorrow, and the stage lights to light dramatically)
- Huddle Shot: When Damien falls to the ground, the girls stand over him, and we see them from Damien's point of view.
- Ice-Cream Koan: The Chief is given to very strange idioms, which Clifford always agrees with:Chief: When the rabbit of chaos is pursued by the ferret of disorder through the fields of anarchy, it is time to hang your pants on the hook of darkness. Whether they're clean or not.
Clifford: Yes, chief.
Deborah: What did he say?
Clifford: I haven't a clue. But I know he's right.
- Inexplicably Speaks Fluent Alien: Some alien fans of the Spice Girls travel down in a spaceship to meet the girls, who understand their subtitled alien gibberish.
- Jukebox Musical: Musical numbers occur, both performed, and background as the girls ready themselves for their concert.
- Lampshade Hanging: All over the place, especially when Clifford meets with some Hollywood big shots to discuss a potential film starring the girls, all of which have ludicrous plots.Clifford: I think it stinks.
Graydon: Of course it stinks! But it's a start!
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: That scene between the producers and Clifford, to whom they are narrating part of another pitch, starts leaning into Reality Warper territory when the story they're pitching in the final act starts happening to the girls, culminating in the setup for the Bus Bomb Brick Joke mentioned above.Writer: But then, just when you think they're safe, they discover the bomb.
Exec: What bomb?
(cue Emma screaming upon discovering the bomb)
Writer: That bomb.
(cue all the girls screaming overdramatically over the bomb)
Writer: (exasperated) Those are the rules.
- Lost Toy Grievance: Downplayed when in a moment of fury, Clifford screams "it just makes me want to strangle something!", seizes Emma's soft toy, and starts strangling it. She squeals and rescues it.
- Merchandise-Driven: The film was made to cash in on the Spice Girls, hawking their albums, concerts and other merch.
- In-universe, when a movie for the "Spice Force 5" is pitched, they end the pitch with "THINK OF THE MERCHANDISING!"
- "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Spoofed in Mel C's intro.
- Newscaster Cameo: Newsreader Peter Sissons appears a few times, along with a Spinning Paper, reporting drama concerning the Spice Girls. He is also seen "dancing" in his studio chair during the live gig.Sissons: Here at home, church leaders have reacted with shock that the Spice Girls have cast doubt on the religious convictions of the pope. The pontiff was hurt and confused by the suggestion that he might not be Catholic.
- Obvious Pregnancy: Nicola, who goes into labor in a nightclub.
- The One Who Wears Shoes: The title cover of the film shows all the Spice Girls barefoot, except Mel C, who is wearing sneakers.
- Open the Door and See All the People: Near the beginning, Clifford tells the Girls there aren't any fans outside, then he kicks the door open to reveal a huge screaming mob of them.
- Paparazzi: Tabloid editor McMaxford hires sinister paparazzo Damien to collect dirt on the girls.McMaxford: How do we know you're any good, pal?
Damien: (showing pictures) 7:45, you sniffing your socks before putting them on. 8:55, you in the lift, picking your nose, another bogey breakfast.
McMaxford: He's good.
Damien: You again, behind the bike sheds with Eileen Winters, when you were twelve.
McMaxford: He's very good. (sees that Damien has vanished) He's gone!
- Pedal-to-the-Metal Shot: Near the end of the movie, after noticing their driver is missing. Victoria (Posh Spice) takes the wheel of the Spice Bus in order to get to their concert in time. There is a total of 5 close up shots of Victoria’s feet in stiletto sandals flooring the gas pedal and slamming the brakes.
- Please Wake Up: Victoria yells "AND I'M VICTORIA, MALCOLM!" to a comatose boy.
- Plunger Detonator: The explosives expert Mel B uses one in the "Spice Force 5" scene.
- Pulled from Your Day Off: The Spice Girls have their much-needed day off cancelled.Chief: The answer is no, Clifford. The girls cannot have the morning off.
Clifford: Look, Chief, the fact that they've been working very hard, and they're really tired is...
- Punctuality Is for Peasants: The Girls keep the whole world waiting for their first ever live performance at Albert Hall, mostly because they want to keep their friend Nicola company while she gives birth, and partly to spite their manager, with whom they had a row the day before.Geri: (on the phone to their manager) I don't know what time we're going to be there! Look, the world can wait, this is more important! It's about friendship and commitment, but you wouldn't know about that!
- Quote Mining: Tabloid journalists quote one of the girls asking, "is the Pope Catholic?" in order to show off just how stupid they are and/or manufacture controversy about her questioning the Pope's religious convictions. They conveniently leave out the detail about it being a rhetorical question.
- Rock Star Parking: The Spice Girls have no problem parking their massive tour bus just outside the front entrance of the Albert Hall, when they arrive in a great hurry.
- Rule of Cool:Graydon: And then suddenly, they're on top of the bus!
Graydon: The rules!
- Running Gag: Geri keeps trying to impress the others with scientific knowledge: Mel C rolls her eyes every time.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": While waiting for Nicola's baby to be born, Ginger spies with her bionic eye something beginning with H. (It's "hospital".)Victoria: (utterly disgusted and tired) Shut up, Geri.
- Shapeshifting Sound: When the master of disguise Geri Halliwell transforms into Bob Hoskins, she enters a phone box, and whirls round with repeated "puffs of air" sounds. Oh, and when Bob emerges, he speaks in Geri's voice.
- Standard Snippet: When the tabloid editor McMaxford who wants to bring down Girl Power hears that the girls might not turn up for their show, a snippet of the Hallelujah Chorus from George Frederic Handel is heard briefly, as "something strange" (smiling) happens on McMaxford's face.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Damien, who appears from nowhere when the editor first meets him, and disappears equally suddenly. He also sneaks into the girls' house by climbing up through the toilet.
- The Stoic: Posh, who rarely smiles.
- Stylistic Suck: Although many will tell you that the entire movie sucks, the movie contains an intentional example; during the description of the frantic bus drive across London, a shot of the bus jumping the rising platform of Tower Bridge is rendered with a toy bus and a shoddy replica of the bridge to assuage one of the executive's worries that it would be too expensive otherwise.
- Talks Like a Simile: When the girls are discussing childbirth.Mel B: It is amazing how much pain mothers have to go through, isn't it? I mean, no wonder my mum thinks I'm so ungrateful.
Mel C: I've heard it's like passing a football.
Emma: That's nothing. My mum said when she had me, it was like passing a block of flats, with balconies.
- Three-Month-Old Newborn: Nicola's baby, who (according the Spice Girls' official magazine) was a few weeks old, and actually a boy instead of a girl.Mel B: It's a girl!
Geri: Now that is girl power.
- Toilet Horror: In the mansion where the Girls are staying, Damien climbs out of the toilet, and takes resounding steps through the bathroom, causing each girl in turn to suddenly sit up in bed.
- The Whole World Is Watching: The Spice Girls are about to give their first ever live performance, due to be broadcast globally, but the Girls might be late, because they're waiting for their friend Nicola to give birth.Geri: The world can wait! This is more important! It's about friendship and commitment, but you wouldn't know about that!
- Walk and Talk: At the beginning, the Spice Girls and Clifford walk very briskly along a corridor, showing the busy pace of their lives, talking about how Clifford is lying about their excellent performance.
- You Need to Get Laid: The girls feel this way about their uptight manager, and say so behind his back.
- Your Mom: Clifford and the Italian director exchange a few of these, although they're actually just saying "your mother" without an attached verb.