For The Tweens: A Review Of ‘Jem and the Holograms’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 26, 2015

This live-action adaptation of the still-beloved 80’s animated television series, Jem and the Holograms aims to please fans of all ages but succeeds where younger audiences are concerned. Jem… starts as coming-of-age movie set in current times, where social media fame means ‘everything’. It tries to be an inspirational story about how the importance of family versus fame. The result is a disjointed, pop-infused, non-original film.

The film stars Teenager Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) as an extremely shy but talented singer-songwriter whose dreams of stardom come true after a home-made video of one of her songs goes ‘viral’ on YouTube. Overnight, everyone wants to know who this girl ‘Jem’ is, and Jerrica decides – with some help- to form the group Jem and the Holograms. The band members include her younger sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) on keyboards, drummer Shana (Aurora Perrineau) and bassist Aja (Hayley Kiyoko), both of whom are fosters sisters to Jerrican and Kimber. Raised by their aunt Bailey (Molly Ringwall), who is struggling to pay the house bills, the girls have grown up together making music. When Aunt Bailey is no longer able to pay the house bills, Jerrica sees Jem and the Holograms as a chance to help save their home.


When the band is signed Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), the CEO of Starlight Music, the girls head to Los Angeles with hopes of breaking through into pop stardom, while keeping their family intact. Soon Jerrica and the girls find out stardom is not all they believed it to be. While struggling to keep true to herself and meet the demands of Ms. Raymond, Jerrica is forced to make choices she did not expect. In the midst of this drama, Jerrica’s toy robot (Synergy) left to her by her father before dying ‘comes to life’ and starts giving her clues that her father wanted her to find once she’d grown up. With help from Rio (Ryan Guzman), the son of Erica Raymond, and the four young band members, they put the clues together which are to be some sort of life lessons for Jem.

The film continues to unfold as an extended flashback in which Jem/Jerrica recounts everything that transpired in L.A. Director Jon M. Chu (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) aims for an inspirational coming-of-age film for those growing up in the age of YouTube, instagram, and Twitter. Clips of real fans of the original show stating how much Jem has influenced them and inspired, do not salvage the poorly written story. The characters are a caricature (no pun intended) of others seen in many other coming-of-age films of the last decade. There is no real depth here, except for Lewis’ performance as Erica Raymond. She is the only one with some panache in the entire story.

For fans of the original show, this film will not mean much and will most likely be disappointing. There is very little in it that relates back to the original. And the most obvious faux-pas is the non-inclusion of the main ‘villains’ from the tv series, The Misfits, until mid-credits. For all of what this film is not, what it does do is engage a much younger audience. An audience who is more attuned to online media fame, the idea of trying to find one’s identity while sharing their lives with many others via the internet. This younger audience will be the one who gets the most out of this film. Otherwise, there is not much to see or hear in Jem and the Holograms.

  • Release Date: 10/23/2015
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Heidy has a love of fine art history, films, books, world issues, music and science, leading her to share her adventures on her website ( , and as a contributor at other outlets. She loves sharing the many happenings in Toronto and hopes people will go out and support the arts in any fashion possible.
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