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 given the green light. In late 1997, Spice World was released.
Spice World bounces back and forth between being a by-the-numbers ripoff of A Hard Day's Night, a self-spoof, and a harsh satire of the Spice Girls and their culture. Ultimately, the production as a whole is just so disjointed, it doesn't seem to really matter.
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 over Piers and his crew)
- Actor Allusion:
- Meat Loaf's character saying "he would do anything for [the Girls] but he 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.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the policeman stops the Spice Girls outside the Albert Hall, he lists their crimes as "Dangerous driving, criminal damage, flying a bus without a licence, and er... frightening the pigeons."
- As Himself: Sir Elton John, in a scene that... has no point except that he's there, really. Bob Geldof and Jonathan Ross also play themselves in the movie.
- 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 to roll, the girls notice their 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?(Beat)Mel C: What happened to the bomb on the bus?!(Explosion)
- Brick Joke: The bomb.
- 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 movie runs on it along with nonsense.
- Compliment Backfire: On purpose—Jools Holland tells them "Okay, girls, that was perfect... without actually being any good."
- Cuteness Proximity: Emma uses her smile and flapping 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 Spice 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.Posh: Exactly.Baby: I know, why don't you wear the little Gucci dress?Posh: That's a good idea. Thanks, Emma.
- Dramatic Thunder: When the evil newspaper editor vows dramatically 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!
- 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.)
- Funny Background Event: While the girls are loyally waiting for their friend 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)
- Hollywood Nerd: Ginger is implied to be this; she's shown reading when she's off by herself, and has what the other Girls consider to be an annoying habit of dropping random trivia facts into the conversation.
- Howl of Sorrow: Their manager 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.
- Jukebox Musical: Musical numbers occur, both performed, and background as the girls ready themselves for their Single Serving Concert.
- Lampshade Hanging: All over the place, especially in the sequence where Clifford meets with some Hollywood guys 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 movie guys 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)Exec: WHY?!Writer: (exasperatedly) Those are the rules.
- Merchandise-Driven: The film was made to cash in on the Spice Girls, hawking their albums, concerts, and other merchandise.
- 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, reporting drama concerning the Spice Girls. He is also seen "dancing" in the studio during the live gig.Peter 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.
- 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: Mcmaxford, a tabloid editor, hires a sinister paparazzo Damien to collect dirt on the girls.Mcmaxford: How do we know you're any good, pal?Damien: (showing him 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: While Victoria (Posh Spice) is driving the Spice Bus, near the end of the movie, she repeatedly floors and brakes the bus in stiletto sandals to get to the concert in time.
- Please Wake Up: "AND I'M VICTORIA, MALCOLM!"
- 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...Chief: Irrelevant.
- Quote Mining: Tabloid journalists quote one of the girls asking, "is the Pope Catholic?" in order to show off just how stupid they are. They conveniently leave out the detail about it being a rhetorical question.
- Rule of CoolGraydon: 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.
- 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, the sinister paparazzi photographer Damien climbs out of the toilet, and takes resounding steps through the bathroom, causing each girl in turn to suddenly sit up in bed.
- Wabbit Film: The lead mentions A Hard Day's Night, but the execution is more Head, a Random Events Plot filled with weird sequences (not all of them being fantasies!).
- 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 guy, exchange a few of these, although they're actually just saying "your mother" without any verb attached.