‘Jem and the Holograms’ Trailer Needs Less Angst, More Fun

After much anticipation, the first trailer for Jem and the Holograms has just been released. This is the first glimpse audiences have gotten of the long-awaited, live-action film, based on the beloved 1980s music cartoon. But while the clip features some glitz and glam, it’s not as “truly outrageous” as many expected it to be.

The original Jem and the Holograms followed the story of Jerrica Benton, the owner of record label Starlight Music, who turns into a pop star named Jem with the aid of a holographic computer built by her late dad. She and her bandmates (which includes her younger sister, Kimber) become fabulous superstars, donning over-the-top colorful outfits, battling rival musical groups like The Misfits and Synergy, and releasing their hit song, “Truly Outrageous.”

As evidenced by the trailer though, the upcoming big screen adaptation doesn’t stick all that closely to the animated television series. Whereas the original Jem was campy and fun, the film version amps up the drama, placing more focus on the dark side of her newfound fame and fortune.

The clip follows Aubrey Peeples as the eponymous shy singer, who is no longer in charge of a record label, but instead a shy singer who gets signed to Starlight Enterprises after Kimber (Stefanie Scott) uploads a video of one of her songs to the web. Overnight, the video goes viral and Jem becomes a YouTube sensation. After she gets signed, the makeover begins. But instead of cartoon Jem’s magic, glamifying machine, it’s the label (led by Juliette Lewis’s Erica Raymond) who transforms the introverted singer into a full-on pop star, complete with bright pink makeup, color-streaked hair, rhinestone covered clothes and of course, Photoshop. Eventually, Jem is asked to give her up her bandmates altogether so that the company can promote her as a solo star. That’s when she starts to wonder if fame is really worth giving up her true self.

The movie is written by Ryan Landels and directed by Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, G.I. Joe: Retaliation). Hayley Kiyoko and Aurora Perrineau star as Jem’s foster sisters and two other band members. Iconic ’80s star Molly Ringwald also co-stars in the film as the mother figure and caretaker of Starlight House, Mrs. Bailey. Meanwhile, Ryan Guzman (Step Up Revolution, The Boy Next Door) plays Rio, Jem’s love interest and road manager for the whole band. Nathan Moore portrays Zipper, the main antagonist of the film, while Barnaby Carpenter stars as Jem and Kimber’s late father, Emmet Benton.

The angsty tone of the trailer already isn’t sitting well with moviegoers, many of whom were clearly expecting something more lighthearted and wacky, more like the original cartoon. The clip elicited a disappointed reaction on social media, with many wondering how Universal could transform the adored animated series into such a melodramatic film.

Of course, so far, the reaction is based only on the first trailer. The actual movie could still prove to be much more fun-filled and adventurous than the initially footage implies and hopefully, it does. After over a year of waiting to see more of the project, fans of the original cartoon have been looking forward to (as Jem’s hit song states) something truly outrageous. We’ll have to stay tuned to see if the movie can deliver better than the trailer does.

Jem and the Holograms is scheduled to hit theaters on October 23.

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