Wednesday, May 23, 2012

And I'm Victoria!

Well, I've been running a little heavy on horror movies these past few posts.  Let's get a little lighter and talk about something really fun: Spice World!

Is Spice World the best movie of all time?  Of course not.  But is it damn fun?  Absolutely!  It's so silly in that British way that I just love, and the movie knows it's not out to accomplish anything grand.  It's of course a retread of A Hard Days Night with the Spice Girls running around London, singing, dancing, and trying to be good friends while enduring the pressures of fame.

I used to really love the Spice Girls when I was a kid, but I think everyone did.  Come on, when you hear the start of this, doesn't it just brighten your day a little?

I remember my best friend and I wanting to see it in theaters really badly, but somehow we never got around to it.  Or rather, our parents never got around to getting us there.  But after the movie came out on video, my dad got me some kind of advanced copy from a work associate of his, which is especially impressive because he didn't even work in entertainment (nice string pulling Dad!).  The only problem with the video was, because it was some promotional advanced copy, a watermark message would scroll across the screen from time to time with dire warnings about not copying or distributing it.  But it didn't matter because you could still see the movie, and I got to see it early on beautiful VHS.

Spice World is just campy as all get out, full of celebrity cameos, and really fantastically silly moments, plus Spice Girls music (which may or may not be your favorite thing).

This is, easily, my favorite part of the movie though:

Victoria, aka Posh Spice, is actually suprisingly funny in this movie.  She'll never be a great comedienne, but she nails whatever they give her here.  She does her goofy stuff with a straight face, and the mash up between her "Posh Spice" cool, aloof persona and the wacky goings on around her make her a sort of straight man, but a disdainful, idiotic one.

Someone helpfully did a super cut of all her moments (this person also has too much time on their hands).  Among the "highlights," I think I like it best when she refuses the obstacle course at the 2:00 mark and prissily walks past it in her heels and tiny dress (which is so short, you'll notice she has to keep yanking it down).

(Skip the bus scene at the end of the clip for the moment, there's more on that later)

My second favorite part is the capper to a running gag they had going.  In the movie, the Spice Girls manager, played awesomely by Richard E. Grant, is hearing movie pitches from two Hollywood guys, played by Mark McKinney (of Kids in the Hall Fame) and George Wendt.  Each pitch has been increasingly ridiculous, such as suggesting a movie where Sporty Spice would try to win a skiing championship to save the girls if she could just get over her crippling fears of heights, skiis, and snow.

The final pitch they deliver is a self aware tie in with the plot of the movie, which is essentially that they have to get to the concert in time, but of course there are Hollywood "rules" they have to follow and a chase ensues.  Richard E. Grant listens to the insane description of everything happening (while we viewers see it as it's happening), and then when they don't rush through the door as promised in the pitch, he shouts "YOU LIED!" and tries to choke Mark McKinney.  The unexpected intensity of his reaction is what sells the joke for me.

Long story short, watch the first three minutes of this clip to get the idea.  You can also stick around and watch them perform "Spice Up Your Life" while everyone dances, including Roger Moore.  I know I just did.

The movie serves as a silly time capsule of 90s fashion and pop culture, and captures a moment when the group was at the absolute height of their fame.  They must have known they wouldn't be around forever (brief reunion tour not withstanding), so why not preserve some of that in a way that includes Meat Loaf making a less than timely "I Would Do Anything For Love" joke?

The movie never takes itself seriously, and it was never meant to.  Some of the jokes are simple or even lame, but I think the more unexpected ones (like the few shown above) are really fun and keep it from being completely terrible.  It's a ridiculous movie with a ridiculous premise, a slip of a plot, and no major character development, but that's not the point.  It was never going to be a grand cinematic outing, it was going to be a fun movie about a fun group of girls with stock personalities driving around in what appears to be Dr. Who's TARDIS disguised as a double decker bus (remember, it's bigger on the inside) getting into vignette adventures with the likes of Hugh Laurie, Alan Cumming, Stephen Fry, Bob Hoskins, and Elton John.  And damn it, I like it.

Plus, Richard O'Brien, better known as Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, appears as a nefarious paprazzo.  I'm not saying he didn't do it for money, because let's face it they all did, but if you have the creator of probably the best known camp movie ever showing up in your campy version of A Hard Days Night, well I think that serves as an unwritten seal of approval.

So, if you're feeling a like watching something light and want to do the equivalent of dumping cotton candy on your brain, revisit Spice World.

And remember, there's always room for wacky photo shoots!

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