What are the critics saying about 'Jem and the Holograms'?

Story highlights

  • "Jem and the Holograms" has been released in theaters
  • The new movie is an adaptation of the TV series and toys from the 1980s

(CNN)Looks like the "starlight" of "Jem and the Holograms" is distinctly dim.

The new film, based on the pastel-colored '80s animated series about rock singer Jem -- a.k.a. Starlight Music mogul Jerrica Benton -- her band the Holograms and their battles with other groups, has allowed critics to sharpen up their knives.
The movie "seems to be merely tossing ideas into the pot that it thinks might appeal to 9-year-olds," says New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger.
    "Its biggest sin, though, is to miss the girl-power allure of the cartoon, in which Jerrica, in addition to being a rock star, was also a businesswoman. Instead, it grabs for the YouTube generation by making Jem a heroine for every kid who has ever been fat-shamed, had parents who don't listen, has been anxious about sexual identity and so on."
    The movie gets a D grade from Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club.
    "The underlying idea of musicals is that song is an expression, but the generic music of 'Jem And The Holograms' doesn't come from anywhere, and with the exception of that ostensibly career-launching viral video, it never feels like it's being sung or performed by the people on screen," he wrote. "It doesn't help that the music is also boring."
    As of Friday morning, the film has a 25% approval rating at reviews aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. Stars include Aubrey Peeples as Jem, Stefanie Scott as Kimber and Aurora Perrineau as Shana, with Molly Ringwald as Aunt Bailey.
    The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck summed up the distaste: "Fans of the original series will be outraged, while newcomers will be mystified."
    Some fans were already outraged.
    Though initially excited to hear that "Jem" was going to be made into a movie -- like "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe" -- aficionados started turning against the project when they saw the trailer.
    Some of them are still griping.
    The film does have a handful of supporters. Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for RogerEbert.com, offered a lukewarm thumbs-up: "It's not a good film in terms of plot or tonal consistency, and it offers almost nothing in the way of true conflict, but it's always an observant and sincere movie, and occasionally a beautiful and deep one."
    This is actually shaping up to be a dismal weekend for new releases. Vin Diesel's "The Last Witch Hunter" is at 18% on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" is at 15%, and "Rock the Kasbah" -- directed by Barry Levinson and starring Bill Murray -- is pulling an abysmal 10%. Which makes "Jem" the surprising standout among major weekend releases.
    There are some bright spots: "Steve Jobs," which is expanding this weekend after two weeks of limited play, has an 85% approval from critics. And such films as "The Martian," "Goosebumps" and "Bridge of Spies" aren't going anywhere.