Spice World (1997)

Bob Spiers had worked in British TV for years — BottomFawlty Towers and Absolutely Fabulous of the shows that he directed — before he was asked to direct the movie of the Spice Girls. He had no idea what they looked like and turned the job down untl Jennifer Saunders told him that he should take it.

If you want to be snooty and say that the Spice Girls didn’t mean anything, they were the first act to reach number one with their first six singles, as well as the first to debut at #1 in the UK charts five times in a row. And this movie, despite critical savagery, is still the highest-grossing movie of all time by a musical group.

At once embracing the pop culture that spawned them and thumbing their noses at it, Spice World is, well, about the Spice Girls avoiding bad press from newspaper owner Kevin McMaxford (Barry Humphries, who is also Dame Edna) and his photographer henchman Damien (Richard O’Brien). There’s also a camera crew led by Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth (Alan Cumming) and two constantly on-the-pitch Hollywood writers George Wendt and Mark McKinney) who want to make a movie about the band.

The band is also playing Royal Albert Hall while making time for their mutual best friend, who is due to have a child any day now. That’s really all it’s about, but I’m certain that their audience was happy to come see the film and hear 15 of their songs in the theater.

The reason for people who may not enjoy the band to see this is becase it’s so delightfully weird and well casted, with Roger Moore as the secretive head of their recording label and cameos from Elton John, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Bon Geldof and more.

This movie also reunited Rocky Horror alums Meat Loaf and O’Brien, as well as O’Brien with his Shock Treatment co-star Humphries.

Perhaps what’s most interesting is what isn’t in this movie. Any mentions of Princess Diana and Gianni Versace were edited out after their deaths, as was a cameo by Gary Glitter.

Beyond having Moore in this, I kind of love that when the Spice Girls’ bus jumps the bridge, a similar slide whistle sound as the jump in The Man With the Golden Gun is heard. Victoria also dresses up as Honey Ryder from Dr. No.

Maybe you weren’t around for the Spice Girls. Maybe you were and couldn’t deal. Either way, you should still check this out. I mean, even as a lifelong metalhead, I could find things to enjoy here.

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