The Jem Movie Is Sounding Worse and Worse


That’s Jem, above. Wouldn’t have guessed it, would you?

Listen, I may not be the best judge, because I don’t actually think the original cartoon was that good. Julia’s been watching it very recently, so I don’t just speak from nostalgia – it’s hugely far-fetched with really stilted voice acting. But I think you have to embrace that, somewhat. The newly revealed details in USA Today don’t give me a lot of faith…

Jerrica is definitely a 21st-century sort of girl, Chu says. She’s shy and scared to use her voice after the death of her father, who taught her guitar and would call her “Jem,” yet still finds ways to make music even though she’s frightened of the stage.

Already you’re losing me. Jem was quintessentially ’80s, not 21st-century. I get that you have to update, but we’re talking about a singer with pink poofy hair.

The director is incorporating fans’ contributions into the movie, asking them to submit performance videos and sing the praises of the old cartoon for use as a sort of “crowdsourced Greek chorus.”

That seems like a really awful idea. You’re going to remind people while they’re watching a live-action movie that it’s based on a very different, period-specific cartoon?

The key for Chu was finding a way to explore the Jerrica/Jem dynamic in 2015. “How can you even have a secret identity with all this social media?” the director asks. “But then it dawned on us: Wait, everybody has a secret identity. The idea of ‘Who are you really?’ is more relevant today than ever.

Wait: “How can you even have a secret identity”? REALLY? I dunno, how can a blond prince transform into the most powerful man in the universe? How can there be hybrids of people and cats who fight a mummy? How can cars transform into robots? SHE HAS A MAGIC FUCKING HOLOGRAM! It’s kind of key to why her band is called “The Holograms,” and only the central gimmick of the story.

However, her talent is discovered and even though she doesn’t want to be “out there” as a musical superstar, Jerrica is forced to embrace the over-the-top Jem alter ego in order to take care of her family and bandmates, says Peeples. “She never wanted to pursue the big costumes, lots of makeup, all that stuff. But in a way it helps her hide and have the confidence to come out and be this persona.”

Okay, if you actually make it a metaphor for coming out of the closet, that’s funny. Not necessarily faithful…but funny. Still, this all sounds exactly like Hannah Montana…not Jem.

Ryan Guzman co-stars as the love interest Rio, while Juliette Lewis is the film’s chief antagonist Erica Raymond, a Starlight Music record executive and the kind of person “tempting you with everything you really do want and need deep down somewhere in your dark place,” says Chu.

WHOA. You just casually gender-flipped the main villain? Combined with no mention of the Misfits thus far, this seems like a pretty big deal. I know if you made a Masters of the Universe movie and told me Juliette Lewis was playing “Skeletress,” I’d have an issue.

I know, I know. Wait and see. Could work fine as a movie. Just seems an odd contrast for director Jon M. Chu, who put the G.I. Joe sequel back on track by making it more like the cartoon. And given that this is Blumhouse, known for making movies on tiny budgets, I smell cheapening out in a big way.