Jem and the Holograms is a top-notch example of a direct-to-DVD Disney movie. As a theatrical release…not so much. Director Jon M. Chu has turned the neon pink of the original Saturday morning cartoon into a bland beige.
In updating this prime slice of ’80s ham for the 21st century, screenwriter Ryan Landels made Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples), originally a music executive who uses a literal hologram to create a rocker alter-ego named Jem, a suburban teen whose acoustic crooning of a self-written song goes viral, leaving the whole world breathless with wonder as to who the mystery musical genius“Jem” really is. In short order, Jerrica is snapped up by Starlight Music head honcho Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), who begrudgingly accedes to her one demand: that her sisters, Kimber (Stefanie Scott), Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau), be her band. Once in L.A., a plotline involving Jerrica’s growing popularity is interwoven with one where she’s led on a scavenger hunt by a robot built by her dead father.