The Teen Spirit

Spice World
USA, 1997, 93 mins.

Director

Bob Spiers

Cast

Melanie Chisholm
as Sporty Spice

Melanie Brown
as Scary Spice

Geri Halliwell
as Ginger Spice

Emma Bunton
as Baby Spice

Victoria Beckham
as Posh Spice

Richard E. Grant
as Clifford


Spice World

Review by David Bjerre

Spice World
Rating
Rating 5 of 10
Designations & Trivia

Genre: Fancy Free

Fancy Free

Keywords:
Living the dream, spoof film, close encounter of the third kind.

Did you know that...
"Spice World" sold 55,000 copies on its first day in the shops. (And David's favorite Spice is Sporty).

INTRODUCTION

There's the high-maintenance one. The one with no chest. The totally innocent one. The totally naughty one. And finally the black one. Like a really good bag of mixed candy Spice Girls have something for every taste.

At the height of their career, between the release of their first and their second album it was decided that the Spice Girls should make a movie. The Beatles did it, and look how far they got. No one has ever secured world domination through just one medium so this was a natural next step. It didn't even need to be any good it just needed to be there.

THE STORY

Through absolutely no stretch of the imagination the five Spice Girls play themselves, in this story that follows the band during a couple of hectic days, as they're getting ready to do a big live performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Amidst endless public appearances, photoshoots and tending to their pregnant best friend Nicole (Naoko Mori), they drive their manager Clifford (Richard E. Grant) insane on an hourly basis. Between taking care of the girls and talking to their mysterious backer The Chief (Roger Moore, lampooning many a sly Bond villain) Clifford is also in talks with a film producer and a screenwriter who's trying to convince him to let them make a film starring the girls.

As this chaos unfolds a film crew, lead by the clueless Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth (Allan Cumming), follows the girls everywhere in an attempt to make a revealing documentary that "crashes through the showbiz facade", and a mysterious paparazzi stalks the girls and catch their every little mistake on camera.

All eyes are trained on these five girls. Will they crack, or will they take on the world and win?

REVIEW

There's really no excuses for this absolutely pointless attempt to cash in on the worldwide phenomena that is the Spice Girls, and yet "Spice World" is not just a tame generic band movie. It's actually more than that.

First of all, anybody who was anybody in British showbiz in 1997 has a cameo. From musicians like Elton John and Bob Geldorf (who suffers a quick makeover at the hands of Scary Spice), to film and TV stars like Bob Hoskins, Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna, in a rare non-drag performance), Stephen Fry, even the utterly respectable Bill Paterson ("Sea of Souls"). Hell, a few Americans like Meat Loaf and George Wendt also show up.

"When the rabbit of chaos is pursued by the ferret of disorder through the fields of anarchy, it is time to hang your pants on the hook of darkness. Whether they're clean or not."

All these celebrities seem to be smitten with the girls and fearlessly offer themselves up to be lampooned. Take for example Meat Loaf as the SpiceBus driver. When asked if he can fix the toilet of the tour bus he replies "I love these girls, I'll do anything for them, but I won't do that".

The girls themselves are also up for the challenge. They're not really required to act beyond their already well-established stereotypes, but they have no problem poking fun at themselves or each other. During a photoshoot the girls dress up as each other, and mock each other's idiosyncrasies and costumes (except Ginger, dressed as Sporty, who remarks that "These [clothes] are really comfy!")

The girls are full of energy and seem to enjoy themselves a whole lot, and that's just highly infectious! So who cares if this is a high-speed ride to nowhere? At least it looks like fun.

As if the film wasn't crammed enough the story is full of strange and bizarre incidents. Late one night when the girls have to stop along the way to pee in the forest, they run into a group of aliens (yup, actual aliens) who of course are also fans! And they want autographs and tickets for the show.

We also get some weird dream sequences, flashforwards to an imagined future where the girls are fat and pregnant, and flashbacks to before they were famous. The girls help to deliver a baby, and while they're at the hospital they manage to wake up a comatose kid as well.

What amazes me is just how crazy and out of control this film really is. Call it what you want, but mundane it certainly isn't. If anything this is an explosion of creativity that succeeds because it aims low.

Meanwhile the soundtrack manages to get though most of their first two albums resulting in one damn catchy soundtrack where anyone with a limited pop culture knowledge can sing along to every single song.

After barely 90 minutes it's all over, and then, of course, everybody in the cast dances. In my book you really can't go wrong with a film where everybody dances in the end.

WRAP-UP

"Spice World" is all over the place. A goodie bag of disjointed scene only held together by the girls' undeniable charm. I can't speak for anybody else, but for me that's enough. The film is ridiculously fun, and even when it doesn't work, it's still fun.

Of course the film ends with the Spice Girls once again taking the stage to the deafening sound of a packed audience going absolutely crazy. Back in 1997 that was the sight that met the girls every time they conquered a new city. Barely six months later it all began to crumble when Geri Halliwell announced she was leaving the Spice Girls. The group never recovered. November 2000 saw the release of the group's third and final album "Forever", which produced only one single and after that the whole thing sort of fizzled out.

For a brief moment in time, though, the Spice Girls looked like world domination was within their grasp. And this film perfectly illustrates why.

David Bjerre, March 4th, 2008 - Send David a comment about this review.

GALLERY