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Wednesday, January 29, 1997

Spice World

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 1997 at 12:00 AM

For anyone who doubts that pop culture has begun to devour itself, there's Spice World. A mere five years since this singing group was assembled, and a scant year and a half since the omnipresence of their insidiously catchy single "Wannabe," the Spice Girls are making a stab at movie stardom in what is essentially a self-parody.

Even for a video-created phenomenon &emdash; a mega-selling musical group which has just recently begun performing live &emdash; the trajectory from inception to deconstruction seems awfully short. But in the age of perpetual self-reinvention, when Bette Midler, Cher, Madonna and Courtney Love can morph into award-winning, dramatic movie actresses, the Spice Girls have few options aside from making fun of themselves.

Spice World, written by Kim Fuller and directed by Bob Spiers (both veterans of broad British television comedies), mixes the manic zaniness of the Beatles-Richard Lester movies A Hard Day's Night and Help! with the sanitized surrealism of the Monkees.

As happy-go-lucky workhorses the Spice Girls &emdash; Baby (Emma Burton), Ginger (Geri Halliwell), Posh (Victoria Adams), Scary (Melanie Brown) and Sporty (Melanie Chisholm) &emdash; prepare for their first big concert, they're besieged by a fatuous documentarian (a determined tabloid muckraker-Hollywood filmmaker) who wants to cash in on their fame. But they &emdash; laughably portrayed as down-to-earth best buddies with no desire for fame &emdash; are more concerned with being supportive of their very pregnant (and single) close friend.

The Spice Girls have an easy rapport with the camera, but Spice World is chock-full of embarrassing performances from actual actors, including Richard E. Grant (in full eye-bulging mode) as their manager and Roger Moore as a mysterious figurehead who spouts indecipherable aphorisms.

These sexless sexpots who rally behind the slogan "Girl Power!" (the right to wear too-tight clothes and ugly shoes?) can't spice up the bland stew of Spice World which, even when it picks up steam in its final moments, isn't nearly as clever, witty or even as fun as it really, really wants to be.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at letters@metrotimes.com.

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