Thursday, August 16, 2007
Run Time: 93 minutes
Director: Bob Spiers
Cast: THE SPICE GIRLS, Alan Cumming, Meatloaf, Richard E. Grant, Roger Moore, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Bob Geldof, Bob Hoskins
Right off the bat I want to say that I was not a fan of the Spice Girls at the height of their success. I probably rocked out to them when nobody was looking on more than one occasion, but I never bought any of their records, or displayed any public admiration. I was too hung up on a certain grunge band from Seattle to let myself do so. Still, having been a twelve year old girl at the time that "Wannabe" shot to the top of the charts makes me feel an obligatory nostalgia for those 5 english lasses. Also, a little bit of age and perspective has made me into a lover of bubble gum pop.
Instead of trying to find Spice Girls reunion tour tickets on eBay, I decided to give this movie a second look. When I first saw it, my feelings about it mirrored the way I felt about its stars. Well, it seems like a lot of things have changed since 1998. No, the Spice Girls aren't great actresses, but the aggressive frenetic nature of the film makes up for it. Although most compare it to A Hard Day's Night, it has most in common with Head, the Monkeys movie that Jack Nicholson directed. Like that movie, it is a intoxicating cocktail of bubble gum and post-modernism. Its heroines, who are spokeswomen for the feminism-lite known as Girl Power, each cling to hilariously 2 dimensional female personalities. Just in case you don't know, we have the sporty tomboy, the cutesy babyish one, the posh fashionista, the freaky (or scary), ethnic one, and... um... Ginger Spice! A lot of the movie focuses on these identities, and how absurd they are. In one rather sophisticated sequence, the girls do a photo shoot in which they "trade" these identities, each dressing as a different Spice. They also put on other popular identities, both male and female, such as Diana Ross, Twiggy, and both Danny and Sandy from Grease.
Whether it means to be or not, this is a really interesting scene. If anyone ever wanted to teach Judith Butler to tweens, this sequence might be a good one to show them. In the most simple way, The Spice Girls are saying that their identities are nothing but spectacle.
About 70% of British celebrities make a cameo in this film. The most notable are Bob Hoskins (who has no lines and comes out of a phone booth for one scene), and Roger Moore, who plays the record executive/ wealthy benefactor of the girls. He is constantly petting cute animals, the pinnacle of this being a piglet that he bottle feeds. He keeps a straight face as he does this, and hardly ever looks at the animal.
The movie takes a lot of ridiculous twists and turns, including a run in with some aliens who want Spice Girls tickets, a nervous and sweaty tabloid publisher who uses a creepy bald paparazzo to get dirt on the girls, a haunted mansion, a child birth scene, and the famous bomb on the bus. I'd dare you not to have a good time while watching all of this unfold.
There is so much more I could say about this movie. It is really very ahead of its time. If you dismissed it like I did back in '98, I'd endorse giving it another look, even if all you get from it is a reminder that Victoria Beckham once looked like a normal person. From my point of view, Spice World is an avant-garde masterpiece in disguise.