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Insomniac Movie Theater: Spice World

by Trevan McGee on January 20, 2011

in Columns,Insomniac Movie Theater

This week’s girl-powered entry suffers the same fate as any other music movie that attempted to capitalize on the popularity of its subjects –– it was dated by the time it was released. But even if “Spice World” had been released at the height of the Spice Girls’ popularity rather than in its decline, it would still stand out as a “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”-caliber disaster.

“Spice World” doesn’t have a plot. Instead, it has bits and pieces of several plots, none of which are strong enough to stand on their own and all of which are as subtly and logically inserted into the movie as this picture of Geri Halliwell:

Here’s a brief rundown of the plot elements mindlessly chained together for the movie’s barely 90 minute runtime:

  • The girls have to get to a performance at Royal Albert Hall
  • The girls are all selected by their Nicola to be the godmother of her unborn baby
  • The girls have to learn how to dance from a famous instructor named Mr. Step
  • The girls have a falling out with their put upon manager Clifford
  • The girls struggle with paparazzi
  • The girls fight with an Italian choreographer
  • The girls are being pitched a movie version of the movie they’re starring in by an American film crew
  • The girls lose track of themselves and go back to their roots
  • The girls change their image during a photo shoot
  • Take all of those plotlines, add in an absurd number of cameos, and insert an entirely Spice Girl-driven soundtrack and there it is, “Spice World” in all its glory.

    But watching the movie almost 15 years after its release (don’t hold your breath on a special edition), it becomes abundantly clear just how creepy the Spice Girls were.

    Ginger Spice is an over-sexed corset magnet who champions girl power and women’s liberation, which is all well and good when you look like Geri Halliwell and all, but not so much if you look like Jerry Lewis. At the same time Sporty Spice has a bad case of crazy eyes whenever she sings, Crazy Spice is timid by today’s standards, and Posh looks like one of those Real Dolls people order on the internet.

    But the absolute creepiest Spice Girl is easily Baby Spice. Within 20 seconds of looking at the group, it’s obvious hands were involved in shaping the individual members. They didn’t just happen upon each other and it’s no coincidence that each member represents a very specific subset of human interests. But while it’s fine that consultants or Simon Cowell himself dressed Geri like a cartoon character and Posh like an Italian prostitute (an expensive one, but still), who decided that the group needed a member that appealed to pedophiles and fans of barely legal pornography?

    That’s Baby Spice. That’s her demographic. Her hair, her flimsy cocktail dresses, her pigtails, and the bizarre obsession with stuffed animals and lollipops –– all of these things are there to make a grown woman look like jail bait and not to the legions of prepubescent fans the group was supposedly meant to entertain.

    Fan fact about that clip: The actor who plays the photographer is none other than Dominic West, Jimmy McNulty himself.

    “Spice World” turns out exactly as expected. It’s short-sided, instantly dated, and totally nonsensical, but at the very least it has a sense of humor about itself, even if it’s a pedestrian one.

    That’s not enough to save it. Neither are cameos from Elton John, Elvis Costello, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Meatloaf, Bob Geldof, or Bob Hoskins.

    But with that many random appearances and a broken plot, the movie seems like a fever dream at 3 a.m.

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