Spice World (Sony Pictures, PG)

film_spice_sm.jpgThe simple mention of Spice World attracts scowls from hell, as if I had just made a joke about someone’s dead grandmother and the Holocaust.

 

 

 

 

Get a sense of humor. The simple mention of Spice World attracts scowls from hell, as if I had just made a joke about someone’s dead grandmother and the Holocaust. The Spice Girls? I may as well turn in my film criticism resignation, eh? First off, I might add that I was never a fan of the Spice Girls during their heyday… but I’m not saying this as any sort of defense of my integrity, but for background purposes only. Spice World, with all its frivolity, throws us back to the days when pop groups made silly films that exposed nothing of the people involved in the music, but a world where these "musicians" act as their media personalities. Most people would throw up at a comparison to A Hard Day’s Night, but is that simply because The Beatles are "respected" artists and the Spice Girls are merely a record exec’s test-tube creation? Sure, a comparison to The Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music is closer in accuracy, but only because of the musical stylings. Seeing the Spice Girls run around, going to dance boot camp or being approached by aliens that want their autograph, is not like seeing the Beatles run amiably from their fans, yet who is to say that the Spice Girls’ brand of pop doesn’t lend itself to such silliness?

The Spice Girls never function as human beings in Spice World, but as their personality creations… and even then, they only operate as parts of a single entity. They each have their own quirky traits but never truly exist individually. A friend of mine compared their existence in the film to a race of aliens on Star Trek (which I have never, and will never, watch) who are all controlled by one mind. One of their friends (actually, their only friend… an Asian girl of course, as the eastern hemisphere is not represented in their group) is pregnant and asks all of them to be the collective godmothers (the baby, which is conveniently born when the Girls realize their career isn’t as important as friendship, is not surprisingly a girl, bringing one of them to remark about some serious "girl power"). Even when Spice World takes turns for the dramatic (the childbirth and the ridiculous scandal where their boat tips over when the Girls are singing "My Boy Lollipop" with two 10-year-old fans), it strangely works because of its lack of necessity. There is nothing that is necessary about either The Spice Girls or the film; they are candy-coated calories.

What’s refreshing about Spice World, looking back ten years, is how unpretentious the whole shebang is. It’s remarkably unhip, which works to its benefit. The laundry-list of cameos could easily be filed under the "what the fuck" category, as how many fans of the Spice Girls would actually recognize, let alone appreciate, seeing Roger Moore spoof his own Bond image, Absolutely Fabulous‘ Jennifer Saunders fawning over seeing one of the girls, or the unnecessary hellos from Elvis Costello, Bob Hoskins, Jools Holland, and re-teaming of Richard O’Brien and Meatloaf? Perhaps I’m coming from an American’s perspective where the gaggles of teenage girls who saw the film initially could give you the name and moniker of each of the Spice Girls but not be able to point out the United Kingdom on the map.

Ultimately, Spice World is a film whose shitty reputation comes from the easiness of its condemnation. It was a throwback, even then, to a set of films that most people laugh off nowadays. Certainly an appreciation for pop music (or just pop culture) would be an absolute must when watching the film, but even without one, wouldn’t you rather see a bunch of pretty girls with foot-high platform shoes, cheeky British accents, and popsicle-colored fashion than one following around the media personality of, say, Avril Lavigne? It’s in that distinction of pop (the candy-coated flavor versus the artificial angsty-aren’t-I-cool? brand) that makes Spice World so much easier to digest. Plus, wouldn’t you also love to watch it with Victoria Beckham’s children, just to see if they could actually point out their mother pre-plastic surgery? That, along with sitting next to Ingrid Bergman while watching her daughter Isabella Rossellini get debased by Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet (Bergman died before the film was made), ranks as one of my favorite cinematic fantasies. | Joe Bowman

Spice World will screen at the Tivoli Theatre as part of their Reel Late Midnight Showcase at midnight on the 21st and 22nd, and 10 p.m. on the 23rd.

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