When the Spice Girls brought their debut album Spice into the world, they became an international sensation. The British girl band comprised of Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Emma Buntin (Baby Spice), Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) and Victoria Adams Beckham (Posh Spice) were met with international tours, major sponsorship offers, and even a movie deal within a year of the album’s release. Thus Spice World was born, a ridiculous rollercoaster ride of a movie filled with British celebrity cameos and as many Spice Girls songs as you can cram into a ninety minutes-long movie. While the movie was met with negative reviews, the Spice Girls’ target audience wasn’t exactly one to care about critical reception. The movie slammed to #1 in the UK and broke records at the US box office. Having been one of those fans, I revisited the movie to discover the 91 best things about Spice World, twenty years after its initial release.
- Nearly every song in this movie is a Spice Girls song, natch. The opening credits scroll to the dulcet sounds of their ballad “Too Much” with an oddly psychedelic aesthetic in the background. Consider this Spice Song Alert #1.
- Based on the credits alone, Spice World is basically a who’s who of British actors, actresses, and performers.
- Clifford, the Girls’ manager, employs dark humor to great effect throughout the whole movie. For instance, to express his love for the Girls, he says, “I love you like a wildebeest loves five lionesses chewing at his leg.”
- Alan Cumming plays Piers, a documentary filmmaker dedicated to following the Spice Girls around for the next week. Spice World opens as if it’s a movie about this documentary being made, but that gets derailed by the movie pitches about halfway through. More on that later!
- The first British celebrity to have a true cameo is Elton John.
- Spice Song Alert #2: “Do It” plays while the girls are moving through crowds of fans to get to their tour bus for the first time.
- The Spice Girls’ tour bus is a double-decker, British-flagged monstrosity with a different area set up for band member–Baby Spice has a swing, Ginger Spice has a chess board, Sporty has an elliptical, etc.
- How the following conversation sets up the Girls as having sister relationships to one another:
Emma: “You know, I don’t believe in star signs.”
Geri: “You see, you wouldn’t–you’re an Aquarian, Aquarians don’t believe anything.”
Emma: “Well I don’t believe that either.”
- The most important, iconic conversation in the movie:
Victoria: “It’s always the same, I never know what to wear.”
Mel C.: “It must be so hard for you Victoria. I mean, having to decide whether to wear the little Gucci dress, the little Gucci dress, or the little Gucci dress.”
- On a scale of one to ten, how much do we think Victoria Beckham regrets making this movie?
- Personally, I choose to believe that it’s on the lower end, because I need to believe that they all loved this in order to not disappoint my inner child.
- What I’m saying is don’t tell me that any of them don’t love this with every fiber of their being, okay?
- The Chief, the martini-swilling rich guy boss Clifford reports to for some reason unbeknownst to us, is played by James Bond vet Roger Moore.
- Spice Song Alert #3: the Girls perform “Say You’ll Be There” at rehearsal. The most important part of this scene is that Mel B. is wearing glasses and a NASA space suit in the name of fashion.
- Weirdly enough it works? She looks great here.
- When commenting on their friend Nicola’s baby being past its due date, Mel C. asks, “Want to start charging it storage?”
- Spice Song Alert #4: “Mama” plays while the Spice Girls imagine what their lives would be like as mothers. Apparently motherhood involves hanging up a lot of Spice Girls-branded crop tops.
- One of the villains of this movie is a nefarious tabloid owner who has made it his mission to crush girl power.
- I’m not saying that this sounds like the current U.S. government or anything, just saying that maybe some things are still a little too familiar today.
- While he’s discussing his plot with an associate in his office, it starts raining on his associate indoors.
- Literally any announcement from Clifford over the loudspeaker of the bus, but especially: “Please refrain from leaving your moisturizing cream in the refrigerator as it can be mistaken for mayonnaise, please. That is all.”
- When Mel B. refuses to adhere to the rules of chess and Geri says, “I’m going to slap you in a minute.”
- Thus begins the movie pitch. While it changes drastically over the course of the movie, the first one begins with, “The girls will play five sisters whose parents disappeared during the January Harrod’s sale and were never seen again.”
- Geri’s main quality in the movie is that she’s obsessed with sharing useless trivia, like the fact that the manta ray is the world’s largest fish.
- The suggestions they give for giving each other new characters during a photoshoot are “Bricklayer Spice” and “Trainspotting Spice,” both of which I would love to see tbh.
- Spice Song Alert #5: “Saturday Night Divas” plays during their photoshoot.
- The photoshoot itself, during which the Girls dress up as pop culture icons by the likes of Jackie O, Sandy and Danny from Grease, Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, Diana Ross, Marilyn, Twiggy, Elvis–and each other.
- During this montage, Emma-as-Sandy rips the sock out of Mel C.-as-Danny’s pants, something I certainly didn’t notice as a child.
- Mel B.’s Ginger Spice impression: “Blah blah blah girl power, feminism you know what I mean.”
- The expert paparazzi is played by Richard O’Brien, AKA Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Spice Song Alert #6: “Stop” plays while Clifford is complaining about the Girls forgetting to clear out the shower drains on the bus.
- When Jennifer Saunders (of Absolutely Fabulous fame) is trying to talk to Victoria about fashion, Victoria turns to her and asks “What do you think about Manta Rays?”
- Scary does Bob Geldorf’s (of Boomtown Rats fame) hair at the party.
- When Geri asks, “Do Godmothers get stretch marks?” after Nicola asks the five of them to be godmothers.
- Spice Song Alert #7: “2 Become 1” plays in the background at the party because Alan Cumming used the line “Tonight is the night where 3 become 1!” to get into the party with one pass.
- Their stance on boys while talking to the press:
Mel C.: “Boys? Doesn’t ring a bell.”
Mel B.: “You see I think with boys you should be able to just wheel them in and there there and that’s it.”
Emma: “And order them like a pizza.”
Victoria: “I’ll have a deep-pan, six foot, green eyes, pair of loafers and no socks.”
Mel B.: “Yeah, and no CHEESE.”
- Spice Song Alert #8: the Girls cover Gary Glitter’s “I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am)” at their Italian show.
- It’s been literally twenty years and I’m still mad they never released this as a single.
- Seriously, not anywhere.
- The compromise Clifford reaches with the Italian music promoter about the nearly naked male dancers is to put them in bright purple assless chaps, a strong choice for what was basically a children’s movie.
- Deborah’s evergreen wisdom: “See, it doesn’t matter how successful you are, sometimes you have to go pee in the woods.”
- Dennis, their bus driver, is played by Meat Loaf. If you didn’t know it was him on sight, you’d know it when he responds to Clifford’s suggestion that he fix the toilets on the bus: ”I love these girls, and I’ll do anything for them–but I won’t do that.”
- While the Girls are in the woods, they encounter ALIENS, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
- Listen, I can basically justify and explain anything in this movie to myself except the aliens.
- Because randomly, the Girls can understand the language of said aliens?
- Posh’s biggest concern about the aliens is that they were wearing really cheap green coats, keeping things in perspective for the rest of us.
- Dance Camp is literally boot camp.
- Spice Song Alert #9: the Spice Girls train at Dance Camp to “Never Give Up on the Good Times.”
- They all dress in army uniforms and combat boots except Victoria, who wears a camo mini-dress and heels and merely walks around the obstacle course.
- Another iconic scene in which the Girls are marching through the obstacle course: “We’re the Spice Girls yes indeed/Yes girl power is all we need. We know how we got this job/Strength and courage and a wonder bra.”
- The many ridiculous places Richard O’Brien hides throughout this movie to get photos and gossip about the Girls: a fruit bowl at a party, a toilet at dance camp, under the giant bed, and as a doctor while Nicola is giving birth.
- When Clifford spends his morning throwing knives at the tabloid.
- When we go back to the movie pitch, where the dude introduces the Spice Force Five, a set of “crack operatives in their own field: the martial arts expert (Baby), Counterespionage agent (Sporty), Explosives expert (Scary), Master of Disguise (Ginger) and Victoria (who winks).
- The very real conversation about adulthood and celebrity:
Contest winner: “It must be great to be a Spice Girl.”
Victoria: “It would be even better if it wasn’t for our fascist slave driver bossing us around all the time.”
- The lack of irony in his voice when Clifford says, “I told them before. If they want to be spontaneous, they have to clear it with me first.”
- Spice Song Alert #10: I don’t even know if this one really counts because I think they’re singing over someone else, but “My Boy Lollipop” plays while they’re with the contest winners on the boat.
- This conversation after Victoria, Mel C., and the contest winners have been brought to safety after the boat tipped them out:
Mel C.: “What?!”
Victoria: “THIS DRESS IS DRY CLEAN ONLY, MELANIE.”
- The flashback to the fictional creation of the Spice Girls when they’re all hanging out dreaming of being rich and famous.
- Spice Song Alert #11: the Girls sing “Wannabe” at the cafe to show what they’ve got to their favorite cafe owner and Nicola during the flashback.
- Spice Song Alert #12: “Viva Forever” plays when they visit their old cafe to reminisce .
- In true-to-life fashion, the Spice Girls decide to get fries to deal with their angst.
- During the dream sequence where they’re on trial, the judge explains, “Melanie B, Emma, Melanie C, Victoria, Geri: You have been found guilty of releasing a single that is by no means as kicking as your previous record, nor does it have such a wicked, dirty, fat bass line.”
- The judge is played by Stephen Fry.
- The dream sequence ends in the judge demanding, “Call Hootie and the Blowfish.”
- Spice Song Alert #13: “Do It” plays as they run to go get Nicola to go out to a club.
- Spice Song Alert #14: “Who Do You Think You Are?” plays while the Girls are dancing at the club, and I’m so thankful that this one gets a moment because it’s one of the best Spice Girls songs ever.
- Seriously, miles above “Wannabe.”
- Don’t @ me about this, I won’t hear it.
- A little adult commentary when Nicola goes into labor at the club and they’re all on the bus to the hospital:
Geri: “The first thing to do is put your legs together.”
Mel B.: “She should have thought of that nine months ago.”
- Victoria’s words of comfort during this time of crisis: “It’s not going to go very far, is it? I mean look, she still has her tights on.”
- When the Girls stop in to visit a comatose fan, Victoria yells, “AND I’M VICTORIA, MALCOLM” in an attempt to make him hear her.
- Victoria Beckham doesn’t get enough credit for her comedic genius in this movie.
- Clifford, shouting what every woman must think during childbirth: “It can’t take this long to have a baby! It’s the 90s!”
- When they confront him at the hospital, the Girls make Richard O’Brien realize he’s been living a meaningless life.
- At this point, the movie really splits time between the movie’s reality and the movie pitch, so it’s impossible to tell what is actually happening and why.
- The Girls have to get to Albert Hall for the show but Dennis isn’t in the bus, so Victoria takes over as bus driver and just screams “GET OUT OF THE WAY GET OUT OF THE WAY” while speeding around London.
- When the filmmakers get all Scream-style meta:
Graydon: “And then suddenly they’re on top of the bus.”
Graydon: “Why? The rules!”
- They have to jump the bridge gap, which they do with Posh shouting, “HOLD ONTO YOUR KNICKERS, GIRLS!”
- When the bus jumps the gap, it’s done using very obvious toys.
- A BOMB then shows up on the bus because why wouldn’t a bomb show up on the bus?
- The Rocky theme plays as the Girls run up the stairs to Albert Hall.
- What must be the darkest moment of the film in which Clifford says, “The lights come on. I walk center stage. And I hang myself. By the way, this is my good side. My final words are: ‘The Spice Girls–I hate them.’”
- Clifford has some dark AF moments in this children’s movie.
- Spice Song Alert #15: the movie closes with a brilliant concert performance of “Spice Up Your Life.”
- The Spice Girls had to race against time to get to their show at Albert Hall, but somehow all had time to put extensions in for the actual show.
- As credits are rolling, we see “behind the scenes” with all the actors talking about their roles.
- Alan Cumming’s great complaint about his role: “So they don’t want my Scottish accent, That’s fine, doing a silly accent, but the chest wig?”
- Emma’s creative input: “In one scene, I’d like to get really really angry and slap someone. Like Victoria!”
- They break the fourth wall to talk to the audience in the movie theater, specifically to talk shit about the couple making out in the back of the theater.
- When the Girls discuss what happened to the bomb on the bus and an explosion is heard in the background.
- Spice Song Alert #16: “The Lady is a Vamp,” the pop culture reference-heavy, jazz-inspired track plays over the credits.