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ok , i admit it--i find camp amusement with the spice girls .
yes , the same spice girls of the gimmicky individual " identities , " they of the annoyingly infectious bubblegum pop hooks and cheesy unifying mantra of " girl power . "
but not even their guilty pleasure appeal isn't enough to carry their big screen debut , a junky mess which would be more aptly named shite world than spice world .
the film begins amusingly enough , with a cheeky 007-esque title sequence in which the british quintet-- " scary " ( melanie brown ) , " baby " ( emma bunton ) , " sporty " ( melanie chisolm ) , " ginger " ( geri halliwell ) , and " posh " ( victoria adams ) --are introduced one by one ( to , much to my surprise , excited and only slightly mocking cheers from the press audience ) as they croon the silky ballad " too much " ( a tune that would sound right at home in an actual james bond film ) .
a few minutes and an elton john cameo later comes an introductory tour of the numerous plotlines that run through the film : ( 1 ) the spicy ones go on a european publicity tour leading up to their first live concert at london's royal albert hall ; ( 2 ) a film producer ( george wendt ) and a screenwriter ( mark mckinney ) pitch various film ideas to the girls' manager , clifford ( richard e . grant ) ; ( 3 ) a documentary film crew follows the girls ; ( 4 ) a pregnant " mate " ( naoki mori ) of the group rapidly approaches her due date ; and ( 5 ) a tabloid publisher ( barry humphries ) attempts to destroy the group with the help of a sneaky shutterbug ( richard o'brien ) .
capped off by a live rendition of the girls' bouncy hit " say you'll be there , " a wealth of laughs and merriment is sure to follow , right ?
wrong . it's all downhill from there as spice world collapses into a series of misfired comedy sketches .
i must give the girls credit for their refreshing willingness to make fun of themselves , but writer kim fuller and director bob spiers can barely come up with a funny joke between them , much less a organized framework for all the " wacky " goings-on .
spice world jumps from vignette to vignette , subplot to subplot with no direction and little sense , at one minute having the girls meet with aliens ( no joke ) and at another having them stage a daring rescue of two young fans who fall into the water during a boat ride .
while a decent joke slips through the cracks here and there--during a " dance bootcamp " scene , the girls sing the lyric " we know how we got this far/strength and courage and a wonderbra " --much of the material is not even funny on the chuckle level .
some gags are just plain pointless , such as roger moore's recurring role as the mysterious chief , who dispenses cryptic , metaphor-heavy advice to clifford .
the only reason why i can think anyone would find that funny is the fact that moore once played james bond .
ha ha .
as weak as the script is , i think there's one insurmountable problem with even attempting to make a spice girls movie , and that is the girls themselves .
the point is not that they can't act ( and , for the record , they really _can't_ ) but that their individual personas , which works as a gimmick over the span of a four-minute music video , are too thin to survive outside of the truncated , video bite mtv world .
posh ( who garnered the most enthusiastic cheers during the introductions ) comes off best by default because her persona ( rich bitch ) most easily translates into character in a film .
baby's persona ( young innocent ) , to a lesser extent , also works , but the remaining girls' identities are a little harder to flesh out .
there really isn't much to do with sporty besides having her exercise every so often ( which is _exactly_ what fuller and spiers do ) , and , after all , what exactly entails being " ginger " or " scary " ?
apparently , just their wardrobes .
spice world manages to pick up some steam in the late going following a flashback performance of the spices' signature hit , " wannabe . "
the song is as grating as ever , but the energy of the number gives the proceedings a much-needed shot in the arm , setting the stage for a wave of self-referential humor stemmed from the screenwriters' film ideas ( the film almost mirrors robert altman's the player in the way the film snails into itself ) .
this section of the film , involving all manner of derring-do involving a speeding bus , is perhaps its most effective , but it also points up how all the other storylines ( the publisher , the documentary crew ) lack a satisfactory payoff .
spice world is harmless entertainment suitable for the entire family , and it will please the spice faithful .
but this sloppy enterprise surely won't win them any new fans , which is what the group sorely needs to bolster its rapidly waning girl power in the states .
once the hype disappears , spice world will likely serve as the the spices' final hurrah in america .