Has it been twenty years already? Time just flies. I am not afraid to admit to you that once upon a time I was a big Spice Girls fan. What do you expect? I was just going in to my teens, my hormones were firing off at all pistols, and here were five incredibly beautiful and sexy British women singing entertaining and fun pop songs. I was the victim being led by sirens for a few years there.
Judge me all you want, but The Spice Girls appealed to me on both ends. I could ogle and salivate over them all the time, while enjoying songs like “Wannabe” and “Spice up Your Life.” For a few years there, the Spice Girls were a huge deal. They were a sensation, and just about the representation of everything you’ve ever heard about corporate bands. It’s not a surprise that “Josie and the Pussycats” came out two years later as the Spice Girls were peaking. The producers of the aforementioned movie were smart in devising a fun meta-comedy about three female musicians plucked out of obscurity and turned in to corporate icons used to sell music, and assorted products to the world.
Not to mention brainwashing the youth in to relinquishing any essence of individuality and rebellion that they had. The Spice Girls at their top were exactly that. They could even be seen playing in the background of “Fight Club” shilling Pepsi in their famous “Generation Next” ad commercial campaign.
Whether or not the girls in the band realized it, they were corporate shills, and any idea about “Girl Power” that they promoted in all of their songs and speeches were undermined by the fact that they were pigeonholed with personas that would be used to pander to certain audiences. The girls in the group just weren’t themselves for a long time. If you wanted the tom boys, there was Sporty Spice. If you wanted the red heads, you had Ginger Spice. If you wanted the dainty and more beauty obsessed female audiences, you had Posh Spice.
The rest pretty much just fills in itself. Like everyone else, I wondered at the time of watching “Spice World” if the girls in the band even knew what the tone of this movie was going to be. Sometimes the movie is a meta-comedy seemingly mocking the Spice Girls, while other times it tries to peg the film as a day in the life of the group in the vein of “A Hard Day’s Night.” The sad fact is the girls didn’t have as much charisma and comic timing as the fab four, and merely being British didn’t automatically make them as funny as the Lads from Liverpool.
And believe it or not, the Spice Girls can’t act for shit, which makes the experience of “Spice World” so much more tedious. I don’t know if I’d brand “Spice World” one of the worst movies of all time, but it’s certainly a misguided mess that has no idea what to do with the band members. I guess if you’re very, painfully nostalgic for the late nineties, you might enjoy “Spice World” since it strives to be a sensory experience with the group, rather than just a movie.
The girls are in every scene, they have a of dialogue, they try their hand at comedy repeatedly no matter how hard they fail at it, and the movie’s entire soundtrack is Spice Girls. There is one scene where they sing along to “My Boy Lollipop,” but that’s a brief instance. It’s all Spice Girls, all the time for ninety minutes. They’re the spice girls! They’re fun, and funny, and goofy, and there are a ton of montages. There are montages of them singing. There are montages of them in a photo shoot in various costumes.
There are montages of them in concert. And they are the Spice Girls, which the director has to remind us every minute. One of the many baffling moments include the girls dressing up as each other and mock the others’ gimmick. I’m just not sure what the producers are trying to get across. Not to mention they manage to wrangle in Alan Cumming, and Bob Hoskins for pretty nothing roles.
For a movie where the Spice Girls go everywhere, and do everything, the movie has literally no narrative, and the individual members of the group say absolutely nothing. Sure there are words coming out of their mouths most times, but they never really say much of anything. In one scene after staying over at a large mansion, their group conversation jumps from being scared to sleep, odd nightmares they’ve had, and why men have such a hard time talking to them about their feelings. This occurs in a matter of minutes. It’s just a lot of palaver and whiter noise, eventually. “Spice World” was about the peak of the Spice Girls popularity, as the group pretty much just faded away in to the background thanks to the surge of boy bands, ironically, and they all just split up and sought out their own projects.
Here in America they never made much ripples, but a few of the members were titans even after the Spice Girls train came to a halt, back in the UK. I look back at my Spice Girls fandom with a smile and a mild eye roll. Yes, I watched them when they premiered on SNL, yes I had the cassette of their hit album, and yes I did eventually see “Spice World.” But much like “Cool as Ice,” I was bored out of my skull, and it helped me realize I was outgrowing the group as a whole; yes they were all stunningly beautiful women, but underneath there wasn’t much there.
Unintentional or not, “Spice World” kind of brought that to light.