Jem and the Holograms

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Jem and the Holograms Movie Poster Image
Strong messages can't save otherwise so-so adaptation.
  • PG
  • 2015
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Encourages being true to yourself and being as special, artistic, and expressive as you want to be, no matter what people think of you. Jem's story also encourages young viewers to take risks, step out of their comfort zone, and rely on the love of their family and friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aunt Bailey is a supportive and loving aunt/mother who wants the girls to reach for their dreams. Rio encourages Jem/Jerrica to stay true to her artistic integrity. Jerrica's father encourages her from beyond with an empowering scavenger hunt. Characters do some sneaking around -- in one case, to avoid the police.

Violence

Armed security guards follow Erica around, and two escort someone out of a show. Characters evade police.

Sex

A girl kisses a boy and then summarily dismisses him. A young man and a young woman flirt and are obviously interested in each other. One culminating kiss. In one scene, a young man wears just a towel; his shirtless chest is visible for quite a long while. A security guard claims Jem was "all over" him (she wasn't).

Language

"Hell," "shut up," "badass," "damn," "oh my God," and one "oh, s--t" that's mouthed rather than said aloud.

Consumerism

Many YouTube references and scenes. Other product placements: Rolls Royce, Kitson, Jeep, Mac, iPhone, Pop Chips, TAGS thrift store, Google Earth.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jem and the Holograms is a live-action adaptation of the popular late '80s cartoon about Jerrica, a young woman who disguises herself as "Jem" when she performs. The movie is aimed at tweens, particularly girls, and stays appropriate enough for preteens. There are a couple of kisses; a mouthed "oh, s--t" (plus a couple of uses of words like "hell" and "ass"); and a scene featuring a shirtless young man wearing only a towel (the camera lingers on his chest). In one sequence, Jerrica and her sisters sneak onto the Santa Monica Pier and jump off of it to escape the police, and, in another, two characters also sneak into a building. Otherwise, there's nothing overly edgy about this story that encourages being true to yourself and expressing who you are creatively. But adults intrigued by the nostalgia factor should know there are major differences between the animated series and the movie.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydaniellez1 October 25, 2015

Not like the original and way too much for PG

As a former watcher of the Jem cartoon, I took my 9 year old daughter. The first 5 minutes had 3 curse words and kissing. This movie was way too mature for my... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written bymsMommy2u November 1, 2015

The. Worst. Movie. Ever.

OMG. What in the world happened here? The meandering, disjointed plot line, the cheesy teen makeovers and the fact that it literally made so little sense made... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 24, 2015

I LOVED IT!!

I went to go see this movie on opening day with my friend and we both absolutely loved it! It is such a great movie! It has a great message - to be yourself, fo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bystarbuckslover January 18, 2016

Age appropriate great movie!

This movie is age appropriate and is really fun! It is about a girl from California who turns into a popstar! It talks about how family is important and shows h... Continue reading

What's the story?

JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS is a live-action modernization of the popular late '80s cartoon. In the movie, orphaned Jerrica Benson (Aubrey Peeples) lives with her social media-obsessed sister, Kimber (Stefanie Scott); their aunt, Bailey (Molly Ringwald); and Bailey's foster daughters, Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau). After Kimber convinces her sisters to raid Aunt Bailey's garage for costumes, Jerrica eventually loosens up enough to record one of her own songs while wearing a pink wig and heavy makeup. Kimber secretly uploads the video to YouTube, calling Jerrica "Jem" (the nickname their father had for her); by the next morning, the song's gone viral, attracting attention from Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), the splashy CEO of Starlight Records. Jerrica must balance her newfound fame with Erica's desire for her to go solo, a distracting scavenger hunt to fix Synergy (her father's unfinished robot invention), and a promising relationship with Rio (Ryan Guzman), her record-label handler.

Is it any good?

This adaptation of the popular '80s animated series will likely entertain preteen girls, but Gen-Xers who grew up watching the show will find only a few fleeting tributes to the hit cartoon. Some changes are understandable, but the Jerrica-to-Jem transformation is more Hannah Montana-meets-Justin Bieber-style viral YouTube sensation than anything that resembles the spirit of the TV series. But maybe that's not surprising, given the fact that the movie's director is Jon M. Chu (who directed two Bieber documentaries), and his fellow producer is Bieber's own manager/BFF, Scooter Braun.

On the bright side, the musical performances are strong thanks to Peeples' talent (she also co-stars on Nashville). The songs are catchy girl-empowerment anthems that seem like plausible Katy Perry or Taylor Swift-style hits. And Lewis' egomaniacal record producer is hilariously shallow; the actor obviously relishes playing a Machiavellian executive. The sisters don't have much to do except look pretty and act supportive or surprised, while -- as the obvious love interest -- Guzman (last seen as JLo's young lover-turned-stalker in The Boy Next Door) is attractive in a way that's not too intense for the not-quite-teen set. Oh, and original Jem devotees should stick around through the end credits for a "reward" scene that's obviously just for fans of the cartoon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Jem and the Holograms depicts fame, especially viral Internet/YouTube fame. Why does Jem have trouble adjusting to her whirlwind celebrity? Do you think artists/performers have to make concessions for their fame?

  • What role does social media play in the movie? How does that compare to how kids and their friends use it in real life? What are the basic social media rules for kids?

  • Talk about the enduring popularity of movies based on TV shows. Does Jem and the Holograms live up to nostalgic expectations? Does that matter? What audience do you think its trying to appeal to: today's kids or grown-ups who loved the cartoon?

  • Those familiar with the original show -- how does the movie adaptation compare? What parts of the show translated well, and what parts do you miss?

Movie details

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