Review: 'Jem and the Holograms' Offer Empowering Messages With Music

Annie Lindenberg ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko Aubrey Peeples and Stefanie Scott in Jem and the Holograms. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Based on the 1980’s cartoon of the same name, Jem and the Holograms is a story of identity and family told magically with the helping hands of music, Molly Ringwald, and a lot of face paint. The movie centers on Jerrica “Jem” (Aubrey Peeples) who is a teenage girl with a real knack for music. The only problem? She’s too crippled with fear to share any of it. Her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) helps her out after discovering a video Jerrica had taken of herself singing one of her original songs by posting it to youtube, and from then on the lives of Jerrica and her sisters are changed forever as they are thrusted into the spotlight.
Throughout the movie, Jerrica continues to struggle with who she is — something which isn’t helped by her double life. As she and her sisters try to fight to stay connected despite their villainous talent agent, (portrayed perfectly by Juliette Lewis) doing everything in her power to pull them apart, Jerrica has to face her fears of being famous for exactly who she is instead of hiding behind her alter-ego. As she finally comes to terms with the reality of who she wants to be, the movie pushes a message of loving yourself for all your quirks and intricacies.
Aubrey Peeples and Stefanie Scott in Jem and the Holograms. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
This movie, truthfully, is a love letter to both anyone who has ever felt misunderstood and to those of the technology age in general. Drama filled scenes are intercut with youtube videos of drumming and step teams to add to the intensity, Instagram videos are used to highlight the every man as fans praise Jem for helping them accept who they are, and google maps is used to help geographically clarify the plot as the characters switch locations. All of these technological touches helped to bring the tale to an audience overly familiar with these modern day conveniences and instead of being annoying or distracting, it made the film feel fresh and relatable.
It would be a shame to review this film without once mentioning the music, something so integral to plot it’s practically a character all its own. Whether it was one of Jem’s hits, a youtube video sliced in with the plot, or Jerrica and her sisters singing together simply for their pure love of sharing the joy of singing, the music reminded an audience just how much music can convey. Despite the high ratio of music to movie, the songs never once felt dull or trite.
Though the movie certainly brushed the line of cheesy from time to time, it was never overbearing. Instead, it was overall a fun ride filled with empowering messages to young and old alike and a reminder to appreciate the ones who are close to you and love you for exactly who you are. And in turn audiences love Jem and the Holograms for exactly what it is, too.
Overall Grade: A
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