They did it to G.I. Joe, and they're doing it to the Smurfs. Hollywood is hell bent on bringing back the '80s, whether we like it or not. But where I had only a passing interest in the forced resuscitation of those totally '80s properties and the slew of similar adaptations and remakes set to come (including The A-Team, The Karate Kid, Predators, and Red Dawn), it now looks like one of my most beloved childhood franchises could be next in line -- and I'm not waiting around to let Hollywood turn the truly, truly, truly outrageous fashionista rock star heroine of my youth into some lame-o cash-in.
Hollywood, if you're making a Jem and the Holograms movie, here are my demands. For starters, you must spare no expense in giving Jem the star treatment she deserves. That means no flimsy treatment on par with Bratz: The Movie or Alvin and the Chipmunks-style lite pop gimmickry; we want a Jem movie that rocks. Hard. Do not, under any circumstances, allow it anywhere near Josie and the Pussycats territory. Hire a director like McG to give it that Charlie's Angels sheen, or if he's busy, call music video specialist Jonas Akerlund (Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone").
In the year 2010, the idea of holograms as cutting-edge technology is a tad outdated, so here's how you keep Jem's Synergy-fueled holographic escapades fresh and exciting: film it with Avatar technology! James Cameron's unique camera system will never be used to such fabulous effect again. That's how you make Jerrica Benton's transformation into Jem so believable that nobody in the world -- including her own boyfriend -- can figure out that they're the same person! Get the guys who worked on the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer to create the Holograms' acid-trip pop art musical interludes and you're on your way to creating the most epic rock 'n' roll girl power adventure in history.
Which brings us to the most crucial element of a Jem and the Holograms movie: the casting. Surveying the landscape of music and moviedom, here's who I think would bring the spirit of Jem to the big screen in the 21st century.
Zooey Deschanel as Jerrica/Jem
Before you go, "WTF?" my fellow Jem fans, hear me out on this unexpected casting choice. For starters, Deschanel can sing. More importantly, she's a good actress with the range, maturity, innocence, and strength that a Jerrica Benton/Jem needs to carry the film. She may not exactly resemble your idea of what Jerrica/Jem should look like, but that can work in her favor by making her transition into the pink-haired, glam rock fashionista singer all the more effective. "Yes, but can she rock?" you might ask. We'll see when Deschanel earns her rock 'n' roll stripes in HBO's adaptation of I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie. And then just take a look at Deschanel glammed up as a pink-haired vixen in this Absolut Vodka ad from a few years ago -- glamor and glitter, fashion and fame, indeed.
Lindsay Lohan as Kimber
Quick! Name a redheaded starlet who can sing and convincingly play the soulful, slightly bitter second fiddle to Jerrica Benton's golden girl. La Lohan would be a perfect choice to play Jerrica's keyboard-playing little sis who struggles with the Holograms' rapid rise to fame (at least, when the spotlight's being stolen by Jem). Maybe Kimber's rebelled by becoming a hard-living party girl. Plus, who are we kidding … Lohan needs this.
Rihanna as Shana
The Holograms' original drummer and back-up vocalist (and yes, the African-American member of the band) had a mean eye for clothes -- it's why she briefly left the band to become a designer, returning later to play the bass. (I'd cast Shakira as Raya, the percussion expert who takes over from Shana as the Holograms' drummer.) Barbadian singer Rihanna not only fits the bill as one of the music industry's more progressive fashion plates, she also brings a cutting-edge R&B flavor to the 21st century Holograms -- and she'll look even more like a super gorgeous alien in that signature Holograms makeup.
Jamie Chung as Aja
I admit, the field for casting the Holograms' Asian-American lead guitarist (and automotive enthusiast, since she always ends up driving) is disappointingly narrow. But former "Real World"-er Jamie Chung has emerged in recent years as a fresh-faced young actress game for anything (Dragonball, anyone?). I'd like to see her put a normalized, accent-free spin on Aja.
Lady Gaga as Pizzazz
Some folks favor Gaga as Jem, but I think she'd be better cast as the Holograms' wicked, spoiled, and uber-aggressive nemesis, Pizzazz. Gaga's already proven the most powerful force in pop music of late and is known for her eye-popping, avant-garde fashion choices -- let her co-design Pizzazz's look, write the Misfits' music (their songs are better), and camp it up as Jem's main villainess, and the Jem and the Holograms movie becomes an instant cult classic.
Kristen Stewart as Roxy
Misfits bassist Roxy is a tough former runaway from Philadelphia who runs a close second to Pizzazz as the band's most mischievous member. She's rough, illiterate (until one of the Starlight kids helps her learn to read), and is always on the brink of a violent explosion. It's a perfect chance for Twilight star Stewart to continue the departure from nice girl Bella Swan that she started by playing Joan Jett in this year's The Runaways, and she's got just the right delicate-bordering-on-dangerous features to sport Roxy's trademark face paint and white hair.
Christina Aguilera as Stormer
Pushed around by Pizzazz and Roxy, Stormer is the underappreciated songwriter of the Misfits. She also plays the most awesome instrument: the keytar! Stormer reluctantly goes along with her mean-spirited band mates, though deep down inside she's got a sensitivity that songstress-turned-actor Christina Aguilera could convey … in song! Aguilera, a seasoned performer and fashion chameleon, would add solid pop credibility to the Jem movie lineup -- and just imagine the Top 40 potential of a Misfits' hit single from the combined forces of Lady Gaga, Kristen Stewart, and Xtina!
M.I.A. as Jetta
This British addition to the Misfits grew up poor in England and has a penchant for lying about her background and famous friends. In the show Jetta played the sax, but cast M.I.A. and Jetta can become Pizzazz's right-hand dance-rapping female MC, full of attitude and plenty of style.
Madonna as Synergy
Who better to play the super sophisticated, all-powerful holographic supercomputer that guides Jem and the Holograms to their fabulous rock 'n' roll destinies than the reigning queen of pop herself? Using the aforementioned Avatar technology, Madge can transform into a purple-skinned demigoddess of glam that appears and projects holograms in mind-blowing 3-D, the perfect mentor and mother figure to this cast of up-and-coming pop starlets.
Joseph Gordon Levitt as Rio
He's cute, he's dark (purple) haired, he's in love with Jerrica but drawn to Jem -- Rio is the guy who's always there for our heroine and her alter ego. He helps out at Starlight House and struggles with his attraction to Jem with a naivete we see in the adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Bonus: we reunite Gordon-Levitt with his (500) Days of Summer co-star Deschanel to finally give them their happy romantic ending (and with his singing and dancing skills, he can get a song or two of his own).
P. Diddy as Eric Raymond
Sean "P.Diddy" Combs knows the Svengali role inside and out in real life (just ask those kids from Making the Band). Cast him as the sneaky, devious record exec Eric Raymond, who tries to mold the Misfits into the next Danity Kane.
Debbie Harry as Mrs. Bailey
More brilliant casting: The former Blondie front woman as the resident house mother of the Starlight Foundation's home for foster girls!
John Waters as Howard Sands
The character of the kindhearted Hollywood producer who gives Jerrica and her foster girls a break was reportedly based on the Hairspray director, so why not bring him back in a stroke of self-reflexive homage?
Justin Timberlake, Kristen Wiig, and Fergie as the Stingers
The Jem and the Holograms movie may only have room for one competing rival band, so Eric Raymond's hot new hair band the Stingers may only make a cameo appearance -- Justin Timberlake as the confident and vain, golden-maned lead singer Riot, Kristen Wiig as his right-hand woman Rapture, who has a weird knack for running scams, and Fergie as Minx, the man-eating synth player who has her eye on Rio.
Jem fans, I know this is a lot of fantasy casting to process; mull over this cast and chime in below with your thoughts on who you'd cast should Jem and the Holograms make it to the big screen. And who would you pick to direct this epic glam rock-pop music girl power extravaganza?