When Spice World The Movie came out 20 years ago, we, as one, rushed to our nearest cinema, forked over our £4.07 for a ticket (yes, that’s really how much it cost back then), bagged ourselves a bucket of popcorn and a slurpy drink, and settled back for the experience of a lifetime.
Because this was so much more than just a film. It was a movie within a movie within yet another movie, wrapped up inside a music video and served with an extra sprinkle of #girlpower.
So forgive us for losing our minds over the fact that this fever dream of a film is speeding its way back to a cinema near you. Very soon.
To celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary, Vue cinemas all over the country are treating Spice Girls fans to a big old slice of nostalgia. We can, once again, relive the magic of the Nineties (minus the cheap-as-chips ticket prices) and see this 1997 classic on the big screen.
For those who can’t remember the plot (because, yes, there was an actual plot), it’s deceptively simple: Victoria Beckham, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm and Geri Halliwell – aka the Spice Girls – are preparing for a major concert at London's Royal Albert Hall.
But, because rehearsals and vocal-training sessions are a bit boring to watch, scriptwriters decided to add a certain je ne sais quoi to proceedings in the form of alien invasions, murder mysteries, trippy dream sequences, military montages, high-speed car chases, bomb disposals, haunted houses, friendship fall outs, evil spies, courtroom dramas, and plenty more besides.
Most memorable of all, though, is the sheer number of utterly mad celebrity cameos they manage to squeeze into a one and a half hour film.
And, weirdly enough, the majority of these famous faces have one very obvious thing in common: they all belong to men. However, we believe there could be a very good reason for this, so read on...
1) Richard E. Grant as Clifford
Clifford is the Spice Girls’ stressed-out manager – and more than a little bit controlling of the fab fivesome. Remember when he packed them off to bootcamp after they annoyed him one time? Remember how he forced them to live on a (admittedly very cool) bus? And remember when he threatened to commit suicide when they disappeared before their big performance?
Yeah, that actually happened. But it’s worth remembering that Clifford learns a lot of important life lessons from the Spice Girls – and he comes out of all of this a changed (and better) man.
2) Roger Moore as The Chief
The late (and great) Roger Moore famously played 007 for years, but, in Spice World, he plays the Spice Girls’ eccentric record producer – complete with a silk dressing gown and white cat.
It’s worth noting that he drops many, many confusing quotes throughout the movie – but we can all take a little something away from that “leave the pigeons alone” line, we think.
3) Meat Loaf as Dennis
Dennis is your typical good guy – and, more importantly, the driver of the Spice Girls’ tour bus. Unfortunately, though, they consistently forget that, and demand that he unblock their toilet for them.
“I love these girls, and I’d do anything for them,” he says mournfully, “but I won’t do that.”
Toilets aren’t Dennis’ only shortcoming, however: when they really need him most, he’s mysteriously absent… which prompts Victoria to take the wheel and cause absolute mayhem on the streets of London.
Cue one of the best special effects moments ever:
The makers of The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, and Avatar could sure learn a lot.
4) Richard O’Brien as Damien
Damien is a seriously shady character – and thoroughly intent on photographing the Spice Girls without their permission or knowledge.
Thankfully, though, Richard O’Brien’s character eventually comes to see the error of his ways, and begs the popstars for their forgiveness. Which they readily give him, before setting him off on a path to redemption.
5) Alan Cummings as Piers Cutherbertson-Smyth
This obsessive filmmaker is ever so keen to make the Spice Girls the subject of his next documentary – but he’s too busy pressing his own preconceived opinions upon them to understand who they truly are.
He later comes to realise that these women are the object of their own story, not the subject – and his documentary is all the better for it, too.
6) Michael Barrymore as Mr Step
Yes, Michael Barrymore played Mr Step with military precision – but, quite honestly, mansplaining dance moves to the actual Spice Girls is never going to end well.
Mr Step soon acknowledges that the band’s expertise and experience greatly outweighs his own, and he agrees to let them do their own thing. Cue a magical and unforgettable montage and a pretty catchy chant which we still remember, even now: strength and courage in a Wonderbra, anyone?
7) Jools Holland as the musical director
This is one of those ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameos – but Jools Holland is the musical director intent on putting the Spice Girls through their paces during an arduous rehearsal.
Did you blink? Watch it again. Honestly…
8) Dominic West as a sleazy photographer
Dominic West is the misogynist photographer who keeps calling for the girls to be “sexy” and give him more “energy”.
To challenge his gender stereotypes, ignore his directions, and remind him that they’re “cheesed off with cheesy photo shoots”. Oh, and that they’re so much more than two-dimensional characters, obviously.
9) Jonathan Ross as himself
Jonathan Ross interviews the Spice Girls for a TV show – but he grossly underestimates their intelligence, and is completely blown away when they start speaking in a variety of different languages to their fans around the world.
Get thee to 7:10 in the video below to see him in action:
10) Elton John as himself
Elton John pops up in one brief scene to smack an air-kiss on each of the Spice Girls’ cheeks – before being left in their dust as they power-walk off to their next publicity appearance.
Every single bit of that clip above appears in the actual film – bar the line about Take That, which seems such a shame.
11) Bob Geldof as himself
Bob Geldof gets a makeover from Mel B at a swanky party (because obviously).
12) Bob Hoskins as Ginger Spice (in disguise)
Remember the pitch for stereotype-riddled spy movie, Spice Force Five?
Basically, they want to put the Spice Girls in an array of silver outfits – with every girl ascribed her own unique skill, barring Victoria, whose skill is apparently to purr like a cat and titillate male viewers.
Geri, though, is set to be the “master of disguise”, and so will be played by Bob Hoskins at times. Hey, at least it promotes “equalisation between the sexes”…
13) Jennifer Saunders as a very fashionable woman (basically herself)
Jennifer Saunders is that person who’s intent on saying absolutely anything to impress her idol – even if it means lying through her teeth.
Check it out:
The scene, which can be viewed here, sees Saunders’ character rattle off all of her favourite designers to a disinterested Posh Spice.
When she finally runs out of steam, Victoria – who recently learned about Manta Rays – is bored of talking about fashion, and asks Saunders what she thinks of the sea critters.
Confused, Saunders replies: “These are Manta Ray’s shoes. These are his glasses.”
14) Hugh Laurie as Poirot
In one particularly surreal scene, Poirot attempts to solve a murder… but finds himself distracted by killer Baby Spice.
Appearances can be deceiving, Poirot – you should know that.
15) Stephen Fry as the judge
In one of the film’s many, many dream sequences, the Spice Girls are put on trial for crimes against music – and the judge presiding over their case is none other than Stephen Fry.
To get a taste of what his character’s like, hit up 0.32 on the video below:
To this day, we have no idea why he refers to them as Melvin B/C and Gary.
17) Naoki Mori as BFF Nicola
Nicola is the unofficial sixth member of the Spice Girls: she’s been their BFF through thick and thin, and she’s always there to cheer them on – even when she’s heavily pregnant with her first baby and her scumbag of a partner has ditched her.
“He’s gone,” she tells them, easing herself into a chair. “Trevor left me.”
Thank goodness, then, that she has her friends on hand to support her through this difficult time – and even deliver her baby when she unexpectedly goes into labour.
Ok, fine: they try to deliver her baby. Thankfully, they get to a hospital and a medical professional is able to do the job properly, but the gang are willing to bail on their concert (and their fans) to hold Nicola’s hand when she needs them. No wonder she wants all five of them to be her daughter’s godmothers, eh?
18) Claire Rushbrook as Deborah
Deborah is Clifford’s sympathetic and eternally denim-clad assistant – and, while he talks over her (and objectifies her) on numerous occasions, she finally, finally calls him out on all his s**t when the Spice Girls walk out on him mid-rehearsal.
He may have lost that round, but that doesn’t stop them reuniting at the end of the film – after he apologises to her profusely. And, when he asks if they still have a professional relationship (hinting that, perhaps, he hopes for something more), she responds coolly: “Yes, of course we do – why ever not?”
19) Kevin McNally as a policeman
Kelvin McNally plays the bumbling policeman who charges the girls with “dangerous driving, criminal damage, flying a bus without a license, and frightening the pigeons”.
Unfortunately, though, he doesn’t bank on Baby Spice’s devious ways – and he winds up letting them go without a single fine, warning, or charge.
20) Barry Humphries as Kevin McMaxford
Kevin McMaxford is a sinister and misogynistic newspaper owner – and he’s desperate to ruin the Spice Girls’ reputation in a bid to sell more papers.
Thankfully, they see through his wicked plan, and McMaxford gets his just desserts at the end of the film when his own ‘Jacuzzi scandal’ is emblazoned over the tabloids.
21) Bill Paterson as Brian
The first time the Spice Girls sing their mega-hit Wannabe in the movie takes place in a flashback to the girls before they were famous (Emma is still in her school uniform, bless her).
But it’s Brian, the kindly coffee shop owner, that we’re paying particular attention to in this scene:
Brian lets the girls take over his business and use it as a place to stage their rehearsals, even if he doesn’t understand their “young people music”. He lets them pay for their coffees with dreams of the future. And, yes, he goes out of business. Obviously. You don’t make money helping out wannabe popstars, Brian.
22) George Wendt and Mark McKinney as Martin Barnfield and Graydon, respectively
These bumbling producers want to turn the Spice Girls into film stars, whether they can act or not (oh, the irony). Throughout the film, we see them pitch plenty of plotless films at Clifford – who responds to almost all of them with a grimace and a growl.
But, when they describe a high-speed race against time (which happens to coincide with the girls’ real-life high-speed race against time), Clifford is captivated:
Yup, this is the movie that finally gets made. We think.
23) Elvis Costello as himself
As in, yes, the Elvis Costello. He plays a humble bartender – and he fetches gin and tonics with nary a murmur.
Check out 3.10 on the clip below if you don’t believe us:
Stop chatting and make the woman a G&T, already.
As we pointed out before, almost every single celebrity cameo in Spice World The Movie is male – which seems odd, considering it’s a movie about #girlpower.
However, it’s worth noting that many of the more questionable men are reformed or change their attitudes in one way or another by the band, and the crux of the film’s story is all about female friendship (it never ends, you guys) and total badassery. We watch as Geri and the gang run circles around any guy who dares to try and control, torment, mansplain, or oppress them in any way. They refuse to be reduced to the sum of their body parts, or sexualised in any way. They refuse to be silenced. And they’re more than willing to stand up to the patriarchy and call them out on their bulls**t, all while supporting the women in their lives and helping them to shine as brightly as possible.
Best of all, when men drive them apart, the Spice Girls don’t fall into the trap of badmouthing or treating one another like the enemy. Instead, they meet up, talk through their problems, and rise like beautiful phoenixes out of the ashes – making this a far deeper movie than we ever realised.
Hmm. Anyone else up for a rewatch, all of a sudden?
Images: Rex Features