If a poppin’ and lockin’ Willy Wonka owned a music studio instead of running a chocolate factory, perhaps he would’ve run a contest like the one featured in the hokey Build-A-Bear Entertainment co-production Honey Girls.
For the contest, young musicians are encouraged to send in an audition video of them covering a hit song by artist Fancy G (Ashanti, not having to flex her acting muscles too much). When selected, they’re whisked off to Fancy G’s estate with other contestants to compete for a chance to open for the famous singer during an international livestream event. Just like a reality show, competitions are arranged to test the kids, and a winner is chosen.
In between competitions, three talented girls (Ava Grace, Aliyah Mastin, Frankie McNellis) hit it off. They quickly recognize how talented each member of their circle is, which moves towards a fun jam session at the estate, and then to a stint at a local antique store where they don dusty masquerade masks, call themselves the “Honey Girls”, and shoot a video. The video is uploaded and goes viral overnight. However, as cool as their new viral fame is, they choose to keep it a secret in order to hold their place in the contest. Fancy G made it clear that she’s looking for a special individual only, not a group.
Honey Girls could’ve been a good movie for kids about the importance of friendship but, instead, it’s a lame and superficial movie that provides a story better fit for reality TV. Actually, Canadians may remember a similar children’s reality show that aired on YTV titled The Next Star. The Next Star was a bubbly vehicle for young musicians to explore their creative capabilities with the guidance of.a panel of very supportive judges. To elevate itself above reality TV, Honey Girls seemed like it was going to focus on how friendship can be the ultimate inspiration when creating art. Unfortunately, the film rewires itself to double down on famous fantasies and teach kids about “brand identity”. There are more competitions focused on how to be perceived by the public rather than what to convey to the public.
The premise of Honey Girls is not as cynical as it sounds, and I sincerely believe the superficial direction stems from unconcerned indifference by its producers and director Trey Fanjoy (who comes from a background of directing music videos). Honey Girls is a movie that was made to entertain kids, giving them sequences to ogle at while pop music plays. However, this still feels like a missed opportunity to teach something.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie