Ever since news broke that 1980s cartoon "Jem" would be re-imagined as a live-action, modern-day movie, fans have generally lived somewhere between thrilled and wary. Would "Jem and the Holograms" be a campy musical fantasy, or something that took itself very seriously?
Well, as the first trailer from the Jon M. Chu-directed film seems to indicate, there's plenty of music, eye makeup and girl power ... but also an unexpected layer of depth.
Sure, Jerrica/Jem (Aubrey Peeples) is still in charge of the band, but her back story has been updated for the Internet age: She's discovered after a video of her singing goes bananas on YouTube. Up pop both boyfriend Rio (Ryan Guzman) and a cynical music industry expert (Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond — in the cartoon the character was a man named Eric).
Plus, there's supportive Mrs. Bailey, played by Molly Ringwald!
Jem and her band are quickly caught up in the music whirlwind, but learn just as rapidly that the industry is about branding and packaging her — not supporting her music. That's a twist many wouldn't have expected from a film spawned from a cartoon, and may lend "Jem" real resonance.
And it brings new meaning to Jem's signature phrase (which does appear in the movie): "Showtime Synergy!"
"Jem and the Holograms" will be released on Oct. 23, 2015.