TBT – Spice World (1997)

review, Spice Girls, TBT, women
Last month the world was rocked to the core with one of the most dramatic announcements humanity could imagine: Zayn left One Direction. For some reason, the news that this young man from Bradford no longer wanted to play with his friends had many people around the world calling into work sick. Personally, I battled with my inner-demons and went on with my life as usual because I’m so fucking stubborn. Regardless of my hard-hearted reaction to the 1D split news, it got me thinking about the biggest break-up in my personal music history: The Spice Girls. Mirroring recent events, back in 1998 Geri Halliwell left the world’s most successful girl group and the world found itself in turmoil. When you think about it 1D and the Spice Girls were very similar. They were 5 of them, they split up and they both have movies. Although, I can’t imagine the One Direction film can be anyway near as batshit crazy as Spice World.

I remember liking Spice Worldwhen I was younger because I was a big fan of the Spice Girls. However, it wasn’t until I watched again a few years ago that I realised how ridiculous it really is. It’s perhaps the most painfully 90s film that I’ve ever seen. With the sheer amount of platform trainers, crop tops and Writers Kim Fuller and Jamie Lee Curtis billed it as girl power’s version of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night which is clearly just an excuse to justify the lack of narrative or sense within the script.
Instead of any real plot, we have the girls preparing for a live show at the Royal Albert Hall whilst trying to be there for their pregnant friend. Along the way they stop off at celebrity parties, perform live gigs, meet some aliens, spend the night in a haunted house, kidnap some kids, fight the paparazzi and drive a bus manically around London. The film adopts a sketch show atmosphere under the flimsy pretence of an overall narrative structure. It embraces it’s weirdness and just goes fucking crazy. Spice Worlddoesn’t care that it’s just an insane list of random events and, for the reason alone, I love it.
Spice Worldis the quintessential bad movie but in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. So to link this in anyway with A Hard Day’s Nightis a travesty because there is really no comparison. The Spice Girls are utterly appalling when it comes to acting: they have trouble convincing you that they are real people which, for singers basically playing themselves, is mind-boggling. They have no presence on screen and can barely muster a sentence together at all let alone think about its delivery.
However, it’s a joy to watch Mel B (a fellow Leeds girl) shouting her way through the script. Although, Spice World is stolen by one Spice Girl in particular: it’s all about watching Victoria Beckham flounder on screen and wasting the funny dialogue she had been gifted with. Her “AND I’M VICTORIA, MALCOLM” scene is, hands down, one of the greatest things to come out of the British film industry. Thinking about it, I’m actually beginning to suspect VB has actually pulled off the greatest con in history and is the best fucking actor the world has ever seen. It makes for painful viewing but, like a car crash, you can’t help but stare, open-mouthed and wide eyed, at the disaster unfolding before you.
There’s also so many details in this that are absolutely fucking amazing. The endless list of cameos and fantastic supporting actors is incredibly strong for a film this fucking dire. Big names in British comedy and film all willingly (I imagine) agreed to appear in it: Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Jennifer Saunders, Alan Cumming, Richard E Grant, Richard Briers, Jason Flemyng… the list goes on and on. Riff Raff and Eddie from The Rocky Horror Showare both in it, for fuck’s sake. I genuinely don’t why they agreed to it.
I can’t imagine anyone read the script and thought, ‘hmm this looks like it could be a well-made film that’s a good use of my time’. Although, it does provide some stand-out moments. Mostly, all the time spent on the Spice Bus which, even as a 27 year old who no longer cares about the Spice Girls, I’m desperate to visit. Despite the fact that I’m aware the inside is bigger than the outside, sneaky little Dr Who reference for Tumblr there, it’s the greatest set ever. Each Spice has their own little section decked out to match there personality and it’s so detailed. Baby Spice even has a swing. A fucking swing!
Then there’s the alien encounter that I’ve already mentioned. Desperately needing a piss and in the middle of nowhere, the girls suddenly find themselves face-to-face with an alien spaceship. Thankfully, it’s driver’s have come in peace and only want to acquire tickets to the upcoming show. Then things take a decidedly creepy turn when the extraterrestrials gets super gropey with Scary Spice and have a quick smooch with Ginger. Not only does this scene have no real business being in the story, it could have had potentially scarring effects on its young audience.
Of course, the greatest thing for me to see now I’m a grown-up is the excellent decision making that went into the group deciding their already overdue pregnant friend was the right person to take clubbing. Obviously it ends badly and, after going into labour as her friends dance a few metres away, the poor woman is forced to give birth with a five-piece pop group starring at her. I love my friends to pieces but I really don’t relish the thought of them being around if I’m ever to have a baby.
Spice Worldis hardly a study in ‘how to be a successful human adult’ but it certainly likes to bring drama wherever it fucking can. The end mad-dash to the concert venue is a truly wonderful break-down of Hollywood action clichés despite the misguided decision to make the whole thing all meta. The writers are trying to get all clever and self-aware at this point, to prove they’re in on the joke almost, but the movie within a movie approach is actually the shittest thing about the film… and that’s saying something.

Spice Worldisn’t a film that was destined to win any awards other than the few Razzies that it was given. However, I can’t disown it. There is something so refreshing about watching a film that is so horrifically bad. It makes me feel safe and happy that it’s possible. It’s a truly terrible film that has so many mistakes and terrible film-making decisions: at the same time, I guarantee that you won’t completely regret watching it. 

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