I’ve been breaking a lot of my own “rules” this week, and backtracking on some things that I had very strong opinions about.
Never #1: “I never watch the Olympics.” Er, um…while it is true that I haven’t watched the Olympics since about 1992 (I’m looking at you, Kim Zmeskal!), and I had written the games off as boring…well, dang it, I got sucked in. I blame my completely cleaned off DVR and lack of options. It all started when I just happened to turn it on right when the women’s gymnastics team won gold. I felt so much patriotic pride that I thought, “It can’t hurt if I just watch this Michael Phelps fella do a lap…I mean, what if these are his last games?!” (Mind you, I’ve never watched him in any of his previous games, but suddenly I’m invested in the end of his career.) And then, “Oh, those divers are REALLY in shape….” It’s a slippery slope, my friends, and I have slipped all the way to the bottom. USA! USA! USA!
Never #2: “I refuse to watch this horrendous Jem and the Holograms remake on principle!” As a kid of the ’80s, I was kind of a Jem fan. (Exhibit A: These light-up Synergy earrings my sister recently gave me.)
Out of curiosity and, again, a clean DVR, I decided to see if the remake would be as horrible as I imagined. It (mostly) was. It’s clear that they wanted to bring it to a younger audience, which is why they insanely overused YouTube throughout the film, but just like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and Scooby-Doo, it’s based on a cartoon! Embrace the silly and over-the-top! Instead, we have poor actors saying the cartoon catchphrases with a straight face. When Jem asks how her crazy outfit looks, Kimber replies, “Truly? Truly truly? Outrageous!” (EYE ROLL) And Rio, softly speaking to Jerrica about her alter-ego: “Sure, Jem is glamour, glitter…fashion, and fame…” (BIGGER EYE ROLL) I have no idea how the adorable Ryan Guzman got through that line, bless his heart.
Aubrey Peeples has a lovely voice, but she’s horribly miscast in the lead role. This film needed to take itself way-less seriously and go with someone who had Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera-level charisma. The worst part is that the filmmakers obviously knew how to match the tone from the TV show, because it’s right there in a perfect scene with The Misfits that rolls after the credits. Kesha, as Pizazz, is an inspired casting choice, and if they had just gone in that direction for the whole film, I feel like it would’ve captured the nostalgia. Final verdict: If you enjoy the Step-Up franchise, you’ll enjoy the performance numbers in this film. If, on the other hand, you want ’80s nostalgia, revisit the actual cartoon.
**I have to give the new film extra credit for giving the actress and voice behind Jem (Britta Phillips) a brief cameo in the remake. Fun fact: Britta stars in another girl-band movie, Satisfaction, one of my all-time favorites. If you’re not familiar with this ’80s gem about a teenage girl-band with a summer gig at a beach bar, please check it out immediately. Come for Julia Roberts and Liam Neeson before they were stars, stay for the fun soundtrack. (I may, or may not, know all the songs.)
Never #3: “I never watch movies out of order.” Whether it’s mindless action like the Fast & Furious franchise, or an epic tale like Harry Potter, I can not watch things out of order, or just start two movies in and never look back. I just can’t. Or, I couldn’t, rather, until Suicide Squad. Apparently, I was willing to overlook the fact that I haven’t seen Man of Steel, or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (Let me pause here to say, Superman is my least favorite superhero, and I thought Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was the best version of Batman that has ever been, or will be. That’s why this movie gal hasn’t rushed out to see these previous films.) Turns out, one spoiler aside, it didn’t matter. As summer comic book movies go, it’s fun, with a great cast. (Margot Robbie owns the film, and it’s the most I’ve ever liked her in a role.) Jared Leto, is also brilliant, playing an insane x10 version of The Joker. Will Smith, Viola Davis, and Jay Hernandez also bring their A-game, with Smith really grounding the movie. Unfortunately, the great cast isn’t enough to move the dull plot along. The most interesting stuff happens between Robbie and Leto, and has me keeping my fingers crossed for a Joker/Harley Quinn movie ASAP. There’s been a lot of build-up for this film, and while it’s not worth all the hype, it’s still a really solid summer movie.
**Curious about the history of summer blockbusters? Do you know which movie started the PG-13 rating? Check out this quick, informative read from Real Simple and re-watch these 8 classics.