Spice World

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins when the Spice Girls perform their song “Too Much” on Top of the Pops, but they later become dissatisfied with the burdens of it. The sinister newspaper owner, Kevin McMaxford (Barry Humphries), is attempting to ruin the girls’ reputation and even dispatches a photographer, Damien (Richard O’Brien), to take pictures and tape recordings of the girls. Less threatening but more annoying is a film director, Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth (Alan Cumming), who stalks the girls along with his crew, hoping to use them as documentary subjects. At the same time, the girls’ manager, Clifford (Richard E. Grant), is fending off two overeager Hollywood writers, Martin Barnfield and Graydon (George Wendt and Mark McKinney), who relentlessly pitch absurd plot ideas for the girls’ film. Amid this, the girls must prepare for their live concert at the Albert Hall, the biggest performance of their career. At the heart of it, the constant practices, traveling, publicity appearances, and other burdens of celebrity affect the girls on a personal level, preventing them from spending much time with their pregnant best friend, Nicola (Naoko Mori), who is due to give birth soon. Throughout the busy schedule, the girls attempt to ask Clifford for time off to spend with Nicola and relax, but Clifford refuses after talking with the head of the girls’ record label, the cryptic and eccentric “Chief” (Roger Moore). The stress and overwork compound, which culminatein a huge argument between Clifford and the girls; the girls suddenly storm out on the evening before their gig at the Albert Hall.

The girls separately think back on their humble beginnings and their struggle to the top. They reunite by chance outside the abandoned pub where they practised during their childhood years, they reconcile, and decide to take Nicola out dancing. However, Nicola goes into labour at the nightclub and is rushed to the hospital in the girls’ bus. When Emma notices that the Doctor has a camera, the girls realize that he is Damien, who runs off with the girls in hot pursuit, only to hit his head after accidentally colliding with an empty stretcher. When Damien sees the girls standing over him, he tells them that they have made him see the error of his ways, and he goes after McMaxford, who is subsequently fired in a “Jacuzzi Scandal”. After noticing the girls’ bus driver, Dennis (Meat Loaf) is missing, Victoria decides to take the wheel. It becomes a race against time as Victoria drives like a maniac. While approaching Tower Bridge, the bridge begins to raise to let a boat through the River Thames. Victoria drives up the bridge and over the gap. The bus finally lands safely on the other side, but when Emma opens a trapdoor in the floor, she discovers a bomb, and the girls scream before Emma slams the trapdoor shut again.

The girls finally arrive at the Albert Hall for their performance and run up the steps to the Rocky theme. However, the girls have one more obstacle to overcome: a London policeman (Kevin McNally) charged the girls with: “dangerous driving, criminal damage, flying a bus without a license, and frightening the pigeons”. Emma pushes forward and tells the policeman that she and the other girls were late for their performance at the Albert Hall. Emma smiles at the policeman, and he lets the girls off for their performance. The film ends when the girls perform their song “Spice Up Your Life” at the centre stage of the Albert Hall. The supporting cast later talk about the girls’ film during the closing credits. Mel C breaks the fourth wall and tells the other girls that the outgoing audience is watching them. The girls talk to the audience and discuss their film, just minutes before the bomb in their bus explodes.

REVIEW:

In the late 90s, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the music of The Spice Girls or seeing their merchandise in every store. The phenomena was similar to what it must have been like when The Beatles came to America. Speaking of The Beatles, Spice World has been compared to their pseudo-documentary A Hard Day’s Night. The question is do these 90s girls stack to the lads from the 60s?

What is this about?

Climb aboard the double decker Spice Bus and get ready for a madcap musical adventure with the sexy phenomenons of pop – the Spice Girls. An encounter with extra-terrestrials, a night in a haunted castle, and a moment of truth in a maternity ward are just a few of the escapades the endeavored upon as the Girls gear up for their first live concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

What did I like?

Spicy personalities. We all know the Spice Girls’ stage names (Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger and Baby), but how much do we know about them, personally? If this film does nothing else, it gives a bit of a look into who these women are, and does it in a funny, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. For this band, that is the best way, if you ask me. A serious Werner Herzog style documentary would not work as well.

More than just one-hit wonders. I’m not sure if they still do this, but VH1 used to have this series of programs dedicated to music from days gone by. One of them was “One-hit wonders of the 90s”. I mention this because I seem to recall the Spice Girls on there, even though they had like 3 or 4 hits, maybe it was some other countdown series they were on, now that I give it some thought. At any rate, their music is on full display with this film, including some tunes we have never heard, unless you bought the CD (it was the 90s, after all). For a film about and starring a music group, this is a prerequisite.

Foreshadowing, much? During one of the conversations the girls have on their bus, they bring up where they would be in 10 or so years. The ensuing dream sequence is like looking through the Wicked Queen’s magic mirror. Sporty got fat, and the others all have many children. Thing is, that’s not very far from the truth. Sporty, last picture I saw of her, was noticeably thicker than her performing days. Baby and Posh have settled down to normal family life (if you call that normal with Posh since she doesn’t eat and is married to soccer star David Beckham). Scary is still in the spotlight for various things, good and bad, and Ginger seems to have gotten hotter since leaving the group. Not really sure what she’s doing, but I do know she had a cameo as Jason Statham’s mom in Crank: High Voltage.

What didn’t I like?

Meatloaf. Ah, Meatloaf, remember the days when you were a great rocker? Now they have you driving the bus in a movie about the Spice Girls. Can we say the mighty have fallen? Don’t let me forget to mention that in both scenes he is in he quotes his songs. I appreciate the nod to who he is, but I don’t really think this was necessary, was it? Maybe if he was playing himself in disguise as the bus driver it would have worked better.

Plot. Supposedly, there is a plot in here somewhere. I cannot for the life of me tell you what it is, other than the girls need to get ready for a big performance and they’re being stalked by some evil photographer and some random documentary guy. As a side plot, we are also treated to someone pitching various movie plots that don’t tie in to the actual film and just cause confusion.

Bond. Roger Moore is a highly respected actor. For goodness sakes the man has been James Bond! However, he ends up in this film in a yuppie office holding a baby pig and bossing the road manager around. Like most of the other names in this film, he must have owed the director a favor, was a fan of the Spice Girls, or someone behind this film had some dirt on him, because this is so obviously beneath him!

I won’t beat around the bush here. Spice World is not a good film, but at the same time it isn’t unwatchable. All this is a fluff film. You can watch this, be entertained, and not feel dirty afterwards. However, if you are looking for serious study into who and what the Spice Girls were, you’d be better served finding the E! True Hollywood Story on them. So, do I recommend this? Yes, but I wouldn’t make this a “main event” viewing, unless you’re just a huge fan of this group.

For those wondering, Baby is my favorite spice, followed closely by Ginger.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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