In “A Hard Day’s Night,” the Beatles go through a wacky 36 hours before a big television performance. The kooky adventures of Paul, John, George, and Ringo were a critical hit, with reviewers praising the humor, music, and various cameos that capitalized on both Beatlemania and the height of British pop around the world. The Spice Girls were the biggest British band since the Beatles, and while they didn’t end up with nearly the number of number-one hits, they were a global phenomenon whose impact was undeniable.
Much like “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Spice World” follows the Spice Girls in the days leading up to their big performance at Royal Albert Hall. The Girls, Scary Spice (Melanie Brown), Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisholm), Ginger Spice (Geri Halliwell), Baby Spice (Emma Bunton), and Posh Spice (Victoria Beckham) are excited about the big show, but they also want to take some time to spend with their friend Nicola (Naoko Mori), who is pregnant and due to give birth any day. Their manager (Richard E. Grant) pushes them to constantly keep going, doing promotions, going through “concert boot camp,” and more.
There are also some truly surreal interruptions, including dream sequences, like one where Hugh Laurie lets Baby Spice get away with murder for being too cute. In format and plot structure, it’s a lot like “A Hard Day’s Night,” but where it diverges is in its tone. “Spice Girls” seems like a silly, flimsy story about a group of bubblegum pop singers, but it’s constantly pointing out the inequality and bizarre culture of the music industry. It’s a meta-comedy from a time before we really talked about those, and yes, it depicts Scary Spice getting felt up by an alien from outer space, but it also has a lot to say about how musicians, especially women, are commodified.