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  Spiceworld What You Really Really Want?
Year: 1997
Director: Bob Spiers
Stars: Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Victoria Beckham, Richard E. Grant, Alan Cumming, George Wendt, Claire Rushbrook, Roger Moore, Richard O'Brien, Barry Humphries, Naoko Mori, Meat Loaf, Jason Flemyng, Bill Paterson, Stephen Fry
Genre: Musical, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Spice Girls are a global pop star phenomenon and everyone wants to be a part of their world, but for their manager Clifford (Richard E. Grant) this means another hectic day of organising their appearances and publicity. After appearing at Top of the Pops, the group head off to the Union Jack-adorned tour bus as Clifford attempts to keep them in line, and as he does documentary maker Piers (Alan Cumming) is preparing to catch some candid shots of the girls, but he has misjudged and misses them as they walk past. However, he is not part of the press that they have to worry about, as someone is out to besmirch their good name...

If there's one thing that Spiceworld did get right about 1997, it's that, love them or hate them, everyone seemed to be obsessed with The Spice Girls: you could keep your Blur and Oasis and Robbie Williams, it was these five young Brits who bestrode the entertainment world like colossi (colossuses?). Otherwise, it was clear this film was a marketing exercise, a promotional tool to flog the new album and add oodles more cash to their bank accounts, because scriptwriter Kim Fuller, brother of their sinister Svengali-like manager Simon Fuller, seemed to be somewhat stuck for material.

What to do with the girls then? The plot is perfunctory to say the least and serves largely to hurry the stars along from celebrity cameo to musical number without allowing the audience to pause and perhaps consider the slightly shoddy air of the project. It was dated almost six months after it came out, and there are elements that would never be considered for inclusion in family entertainment today, such as the the Gary Glitter cover version (he was supposed to appear too before his child porn conviction) and disgraced showbiz animal Michael Barrymore as a dance instructor/drill instructor.

For the greater part of the running time, this is fluff, and the wobbly character traits given to the girls show this. Geri is given the thankless (and hard to believe) role of the know-it-all, Mel C likes football, Victoria likes fashion and can't run in heels, Emma behaves like sweetness and light while sucking lollipops and Mel B... erm, they seem to have forgotten to give her a personality quirk. They're not exactly the finest performances you'll see in a movie, even a pop movie, but they are functional in a variety show sketch interlude kind of way.

However, if you look at the apparent template offered for this kind of thing, it's The Monkees who did it first and best and Fuller and veteran TV comedy director Bob Spiers would have been better to ape that. In the Monkees TV show, as opposed to their movie Head, they would set up a genre to spoof every week and while it's a cliché, it still provided the solid storylines to hang jokes on, something lacking here. That ever-vague "Girl Power" proves not enough to build a movie around, and the inclusion of future Torchwood star Naoko Mori as the hitherto unheard of about-to-give-birth best friend of the group simply provides the excuse for running about the climax needed. Now Spiceworld is more interesting as an item of pop culture ephemera, a brief snapshot of who was famous for a while in its year, but you could just as easily get that from the Spice Girls' videos.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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