Britpop died, not with a bang, but with the ushering in of a new brand of music, one that soon pulled the curtain back to showcase itself as pop music all along. Scoundrels. The Spice Girls aren’t too bad of a pop group, and their foray into film with Spice World seems rather an inevitability when you come to think about it. It was certainly a financial hit; they blew The Beatles out of the water entirely in that regard. But when discussing the quality of the overall product, there is only one, clear winner. It’s certainly not Spice World, for it fails to reach the surprising consistency of the album it shares its name with.
The Spice Girls’, shall we say, inability to act, is actually rather charming. They come across as real people, rather than debutant posers. The Spice Girls understand that they’re performers, rather than actors, and their efforts here are solid enough. A multitude of British legends make an appearance in cameo roles, it feels a bit like jury service for the likes of Jools Holland, Elvis Costello, Bob Geldof, and Bob Hoskins, and that only scratches the surface of brief appearances from British legends.
The talent of the cast does not, unfortunately, transfer to the screen. Richard E. Grant and the late Roger Moore may have some classics under their belt, but their capabilities as performers do not gel well with a dated script that features heavy amounts of bland flashbacks, and a multitude of montage clips. Photo shoots, farcical comedy moments and an overwhelming number of side-stories to give our more prominent cast members something to do. A leading story of preparing for a concert, mixed with a documentary crew following them around but they don’t interact with them and for some reason they’re a villain, alongside a tabloid hack trying to scupper their careers and split the group up. A lot is left on the cutting room floor to make way for dance numbers and a shouting Grant, and there’s a lot to be desired from director Bob Spiers.
Spice World does a surprisingly good job of capturing just how spiced up the United Kingdom was, and the wave of music and style that exploded in the late 90s is a very efficient time capsule. Deserving of credit for trying to bring life to the caricatures this five-piece perform under, and the erratic insanity they bring to the table. They take a pregnant woman to a nightclub, cure a child of his comatose state by threatening to flash their breasts, and they escape a bus driven by Meat Loaf, steal a boat, and then subsequently almost drown a child. The worst part of it all, though, is that it doesn’t go far enough. Ideas on paper that sound superb, but in creating them, they feel long and drawn out. Much like the career of the group I suppose.