How to describe the transcendently puerile cinematic experience known as “Spice World”?
Being kicked to death by a pack of wild Barbies?
Getting mauled by the Care Bears?
Drowning in a sea of “My Little Pony” sweat?
Close, very close. But, really, nothing is quite the same as spending 93 minutes in the company of Baby, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Posh.
You’d have to be there. But don’t.
For those who have managed to remain blissfully unaware of all this, please allow me to explain that Baby, Ginger, etc. are the nicknames of the Spice Girls, a five-headed pop-music phenomenon that seems already to have peaked. In terms of artistic achievement and cultural significance, the group has earned a place in the pop pantheon alongside such forgettable former luminaries as the Village People and Menudo.
As fans of the Spice Girls are well aware, the group includes the artists formerly unknown as Emma Bunton (Baby), Geri Halliwell (Ginger), Melanie Brown (Scary), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty) and Victoria Adams (Posh). As far as I know, the group contains no Sneezy, Grumpy or Rudolph.
“Spice World” is the girls’ first motion picture. The plot is a fictionalized version of several days in the lives of the not-quite-fabulous five - “A Hard Week’s Night,” you might say.
For most of the movie, the Spice Girls tool around London in their double-decker Spice Bus, rehearse their music, play chess (?), rebel against their manager (Richard E. Grant), coo over a pregnant friend (Naoko Mori), meet up with extraterrestrials (!), nearly miss their big concert at the Royal Albert Hall and, of course, dress up in flashy outfits and paint their pretty toenails.
One subplot involves a Hollywood producer (George Wendt) and writer (Mark McKinney) who are trying to sign up the questionable quintet to be in a movie. “They’re young! They’re cute! They’re hip! They’re wacky!” proclaims the producer, who somehow fails to add, “They’re over.”
Another subplot concerns a media tycoon (Barry Humphries) who is so sick of having to publish articles about the popular group that he attempts to ruin their career. This fellow is supposed to be the villain, and yet it is hard not to see his point.
Along the way, we are treated (if that is the word) to the sounds of more than a dozen Spice Girls songs, including the upbeat hits “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life,” the only two that strike me as even remotely listenable.
“That was absolutely perfect,” exclaims one man, just as the girls are finishing a song, “without, of course, being any good.”
As that comment indicates, the movie features a lightly self-mocking perspective, courtesy of director Bob Spiers (TV’s “Absolutely Fabulous”) and screenwriter Kim Fuller (TV’s “The Tracey Ullman Show.”) But, unfortunately, affecting a superior attitude toward one’s movie and making a movie that is actually worth watching are two very different things.
Joining in the fun (that is not the word) are a number of celebs including Elton John, Meat Loaf, Roger Moore and Bob Hoskins. Also appearing briefly with last year’s models is Elvis Costello.
Girl Power rangers have, of course, already made their plans to see the film, and those plans are presumably firm. Others will want to exercise extreme caution.
As an example of pop-culture debris, “Spice World” is absolutely perfect. Without, of course, being any good.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “Spice World” Location: North Division, Spokane Valley Mall, Showboat Credits: Directed by Bob Spiers, starring the Spice Girls Running time: 1:33 Rating: PG