Spice World (1998)
Spice World (1998)

Genre: Comedy and Musical Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Release Date: January 23rd, 1998 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Bob Spiers Actors: Victoria Adams, Geraldine Halliwell, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Alan Cumming, Stephen Fry, Richard E. Grant, Bob Hoskins, Barry Humphries, Meat Loaf, Roger Moore, Dominic West




ittle more than an excuse to exploit the success of the Spice Girls, “Spice World” is a grossly lacking project, even for those who enjoy the music. Essentially a ripoff of the Beatles’ “A Hard Days Night,” this endeavor only highlights the fact that the Spice Girls are not nearly as famous and their music is not nearly as universally recognized. A slew of cameos and familiar supporting cast members can’t save the film from its own bad dialogue, poor choreography, and painful lip-syncing. Apparently, everyone was in it just for the paycheck.

Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth (Alan Cumming) is a documentarian desperately trying to obtain footage for his latest project, a look at the popular five-girl singing group, the Spice Girls: Ginger (Geraldine Halliwell), Baby (Emma Bunton), Posh (Victoria Adams), Sporty (Melanie Chisholm), and Scary (Melanie Brown). While he struggles to sneak into parties where they cavort and onto sets where they practice, the girls themselves prepare for a big stage show in England. Meanwhile, their eccentric manager is in cahoots with Chief (Roger Moore), the man who feels he is responsible for their success and can take it away with a snap of his fingers – or a caress of his squealing bovine. If that wasn’t enough, a mysterious paparazzi spy gets carried away snapping pictures of the fivesome to paste all over the headlines. And, to top it all off, a pair of filmmakers pitch their idea of a Spice Girl movie to studio executives, which, as it turns out, is basically the very movie that is unfolding.

Since the story is largely pointless (it’s curious that a narrative exists at all), and little else really holds attention spans, it’s easy to pick out inaccuracies and bits of concepts that don’t quite add up. For one, the girls drive around in the Spice Bus, a blue and red monstrosity that has an impossibly large interior. So impossibly large, in fact, that it doesn’t even pretend to make sense. Workout equipment, couches, beds, and all sorts of other furniture are scattered throughout the inside of the vehicle, in shots that are clearly not capable of being inside the double-decker. And yet, the filmmakers go so far as to show the flashing lights of other vehicles zipping by the transport’s windows, even though the realism has long since been abandoned.

While each Spice Girl physically embodies stereotypical fashions, physiques, and attitudes, those characteristics don’t translate over to their personalities. Either they were all scripted to be ditzy, or they’re just naturally that way. Through constant daydream sequences, they act out various scenarios, most of which are intended to be comedy relief – despite the blatant absence of humor. Similarly, the song and dance segments arise from nonsensical situations, and they’re furthermore choreographed with little self-respect and with obnoxious elements, such as an Army dance instructor and amateurish editing. Part of this involves Alan Cumming, playing a character that isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination, and Roger Moore, embarrassingly portraying a villain who strokes various furry animals and speaks in riddles – an obvious spoof of his own James Bond evildoers.

With brief appearances by Elton John, Bob Hoskins, and other well-known Brits; a wholeheartedly unexciting speedboat adventure; and countless attempts at sketchy humor, “Spice World” is still unable to create entertainment that reaches beyond diehard fans of the all-girl group. And even entertaining those devotees is something of a debatable success. When the group revives an unconscious sick kid by suggesting that Ginger Spice take off her top, it’s apparent that their true talents are not entirely in the music.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10