Spiceworld review

Could it ever have risen above the inevitable mediocrity of a shrewd financial deal filmed in the harsh glare of the media's spotlight? Well, call this a controversial view but yes, it could have been.

They could have positioned the group in scenes populated by professional actors. They could have just edited it quickly and been silly - - a move which saves the final 10 minutes of the film. Or they could have "done a Michael Jackson", by gluing slick, video-promo quality musical numbers to a skimpy storyline. But they didn't.

What they did do was break the movie down into lots of tiny sections which could be filmed quickly, cheaply, and preferably on a closed set. This might have worked but for two things - - the frankly dire script and the ill-advised decision to leave the Spice Girls alone and unaided for entire scenes. Fictional (but representative) example dialogue:

Ginger: "It's about, y'know, female empowerment"
Sporty: "I like football, me"
Baby: "I have lots of teddy bears"
Posh: "Quickly everyone, it's only two more days to the concert!"

Presumed drama school escapee Victoria has the lion's share of the scripted, plot-advancing lines, leaving the rest to trot out tired variations of their single adjective stage personas. Scary, unable to be in any way offensive in such a bubble-gum production, sinks without a trace. Even more alarmingly, both the choice and production of the song routines are terrible. The Spices' original (and best) song, Wannabe, is thrown away in a flashback, while we're painfully treated to a cover of Gary Glitter's My Gang twice.

One in four scenes involves their Union Jack double-decker bus driving past London landmarks. All-told, there must be nearly 10 infuriating minutes of this obvious filler, and even more of the Spice-less sub-plots. Namely:

1. Evil media tycoon (Barrie Humphries) unleashes his paparazzi dogs to discredit the group.
2. Campy documentary director (Alan Cumming) fails to make his video.
3. Hollywood exec (Norm from Cheers) pitches dumb movie ideas to the Girls' manager (Richard E Grant).

As for the cameos, Roger Moore and Stephen Fry have the only truly funny lines of the film; Richard E Grant escapes with his credibility scuffed but intact; and Elvis Costello and Meat Loaf have their artistic integrity severely mauled.

Call me an ageing fuddy-duddy who doesn't understand today's modern beat combos, but I failed to spot the value contained within. If anything's going to convert ardent fans into cynical victims of a media-orchestrated campaign in teenage asset-stripping, it's this crock. Avoid it as vigorously as you'd avoid anything else with Michael Barrymore in it. The party's over, girls.

What would have made a moderately entertaining Boxing Day TV special looks shabby, badly thought out and chronically underfunded on the big screen. All thoughts of entertainment seem to have been lost in the rush to cash in on the Spices' last Xmas.

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