I’m a ’90s kid, so Jem and the Holograms is before my time. I first heard of the cartoon when I watched VH1’s I Love the Eighties, where a variety of actors, writers, and comedians commented on what they enjoyed growing up during that time. Recently, I watched the cartoon and found that it was slapstick humor that sang and dressed up in neon colors.
Now that the live action film of Jem and the Holograms is coming, will it live up to the original? From watching the trailer, I’d say not necessarily. There are plenty of similarities and differences between the cartoon and trailer. Both the cartoon and the trailer has the lead character, Jem a.k.a. Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples), left an orphan after her father dies and she is sent to live somewhere else. In the cartoon, she lives at a foster home for girls known as “Starlight House” that was founded by her late father, but in the adaptation, she is sent to live with her aunt.
The members of Jem’s band consist of her sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott), and their two foster “sisters,”Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau). It’s in implied in the cartoon that Jem is wealthy since she inherited one half of her father’s recording studio, Starlight Music, and Starlight House. In the film, Jem is a small town girl who lives with her aunt after her father dies, and is discovered through YouTube; Starlight Music has no connection to her until she is discovered. In the cartoon, “Synergy,” the holographic computer that was created by Jem’s father, is portrayed as a big-haired, leotard-wearing female. The trailer portrays “Synergy” as a small robot that is reminiscent of EVE from Pixar’s WALL-E.
The trailer does emphasize the importance of girl power and family. It’s the same in the cartoon, but from the way it’s executed in the adaptation, it appears simplistic. A girl from a simple town and family journeys with her band to L.A., and is taken away by the dazzle of success, until she realizes it affects the bond she has with her band members. In the cartoon, Jem and her band members go on over-the-top adventures against super-villain, Eric Raymond, a greedy music executive that is also the other owner of Starlight Music. The adaptation has “warm fuzzies in my stomach written all over it,” but I was kind of hoping it would go a campier, sillier direction, similar to the live action adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats.
Jem and the Holograms opens in theaters on October 23, 2015.