The Spice Girls were much more than a girl band—they were an irreverent call to stand tall on that platform-shoe mountain and sing out: girl power! The band's power peaked with Spice World, a deranged, postmodern masterpiece that defined our generation—or at the very least, deeply informed our senses of humor and whimsy.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film, I've compiled a list of its most potent scenes. From boob-honking aliens to bare-assed Italian dancers, here are 20 moments (in chronological order) from Spice World I just can't stop thinking about:
1. The Spice Bus
What an honor it must have been to design this double decker tour bus covered with the British flag, stuffed to the brim with shoes, and helmed by the one and only Meat Loaf. Each Spice Girl gets her own personalized space: Ginger (Geri) plops down on a couch that looks like a giant pair of red lips while Baby (Emma) sits on a literal swing next to a plastic mini-slide made for toddlers. Scary (Mel B) lounges about in a den decked out in zebra print as Sporty (Mel C) lifts weights next to an exercise bike. Posh (Victoria) has transformed her room on the bus into a giant closet packed with small black dresses.
2. Clifford describing the Spice Girls
The girls are managed by Clifford, an uptight guy with wacky facial hair played by Richard E. Grant. After Clifford doesn't watch one of their performances, the girls ask him if he still loves them and he answers: "I love you like a wildebeest loves five lionesses chewing at his legs."
Later on, when speaking to his mysterious boss called The Chief, Clifford says, "They're hot, chief. They’ve got fire in their eyes, hunger in their bellies, and great big shoes on their feet."
3. The way Scary Spice asks, "How's baby?"
Early in the film, we're introduced to Nicola, the Spice Girls' best friend and de facto sixth member. She arrives at the girls' rehearsal very pregnant and plops down as her friends fawn over her. That's when Scary Spice says it. That's when she asks "How's baby?" in a way that sounds like "Ow's beh-beh?" This pronunciation has stuck with me my whole life, and I still cannot bring myself to ask about babies in any other way.
4. The identity crisis photo shoot
"I don’t get it. Why do people stereotype us all the time?" Sporty asks her bandmates, as the girls stop what they're doing to ponder deeply. This question segues into a photo shoot where the girls are dressing up as pop culture icons like Twiggy and Wonder Woman—but the best part is when they dress up as each other.
Ginger comes out dressed like Sporty, and says "Oh, I'm so sporty!", while Sporty imitates Posh by saying "I'm just...too posh." But we get an on-the-nose impression of Ginger Spice when Scary trots on set to say, "Blah blah blah, girl power, feminism...you know what I mean?" And see a glimpse of what could have been Posh Spice's illustrious acting career when she shuffles in-frame as Baby to say in a sweet voice: "My mummy's my best friend!" Iconic.
5. Sporty and Baby as Danny and Sandy
Shout out to every woman who wasn’t actually sporty but ascribed to being that Spice Girl because it was the '90s and we couldn't just call ourselves Queer Spice. This seconds-long moment of Sporty and Baby pretending to be Danny and Sandy occurs during the above photo shoot, but it shines as a standalone scene. This was an awakening for me (and likely other queer women who grew up with this movie) and it still overwhelms me with exciting, confusing feelings.
What can I say? I’ve got chills….and they’re multiplying.
6. The evil paparazzo dressed like a leather daddy
The villain of the movie is a photographer named Damien (played by Richard O'Brien) hired by a British newspaper exec to catch the Spice Girls in unsavory acts that might ruin their reputation. As the media mogul debates hiring the photographer, he says, "He sounds great, but where the hell is this guy?" Just then, the bespectacled bald man wearing all black emerged from behind a curtain to say "I'm here." His gag consists of these moments, like popping out of a toilet to photograph the Spice Girls.
7. Baby Spice's outfit at this cocktail party
Make tiaras and negligees an everyday look.
8. How the Spice Girls answer the question "Do you have any time for boys?"
Sporty: Boys? ...Doesn’t ring a bell
Scary: See, I think with boys you should be able to just wheel them in. And then they’re there, and then that’s it.
Baby: Yeah, and order them like a pizza.
Posh: Yeah, right. I’ll have a deep-pan, six foot, green eyes, pair of loafers, and no socks.
Scary: Yeah, no cheese!
9. The Italian dancers
The Spice Girls jet to Italy for a quick performance, and are shocked when their all-male back-up dancers emerge in tiny white briefs and sailor hats. (Scary says of one dancer who is flexing his pecs: "I mean come on look at his muscles, it looks like he’s got ferrets burrowing under there or something.") They compromise with event organizers by changing the dancers' costumes to absurd pink and purple suits with a surprise reveal.
10. Baby Spice’s rejection of one of the dancers
"In my bed I’ve got two teddies, I’ve got a rabbit, I’ve got two dollies—one’s Susan, she’s got a bad eye. And then I’ve got a green giraffe which I won at a fair—it was the only one left and I felt really sorry for him. Then there’s Buzz, Woody, the alien, and then I’ve got a fluffy pink hot water bottle, so there’s just not enough room for you, mate!"
11. The Meat Loaf joke
The toilets on the Spice Bus are broken, and when the girls' driver Meat Loaf is asked to unclog them, he responds: "I’ll do anything for you girls...but I won’t do that."
12. The UFO landing
The Spice Girls are on a road trip and because the Spice Bus toilets are broken, they venture out into the woods for a middle-of-the-night bathroom break. When we hear the strange, resonant note that's become synonymous with supernatural horror movies, Sporty blames Scary Spice for farting! Suddenly, a UFO lands before them, revealing four small alien men with tiny wrinkled heads, big square bodies, and elaborately-collared suits. The aliens proceed to ask the girls for tickets to their Albert Hall show, but after hearing it's sold out, they opt for autographs instead.
13. Scary Spice gets groped by an alien
I thought I was the only one fixated on this specific part of the Spice Girls' alien encounter until I brought up the film's 20th anniversary to my friend Lauren, who immediately said: "You know what's a weird part of the movie I always think about? How one of the aliens grabbed Scary's boob. Remember that?"
As the aliens meet the girls, one reaches his hand out and HONKS SCARY SPICE'S BOOB. Mel B, of course, is having none of it and immediately yells, "Oy, get off!" Later, when posing for a picture with the girls, the aliens coerce Ginger by urging, "Give us a kiss, ginger one!" If these aliens came back today, they'd lose a hand.
14. Posh Spice at Dance Camp
Clifford sends the girls to "Dance Camp," where they're supposed to study under "the toughest dance teacher of all time: Mr. Step." The girls go on to do a bootcamp montage, which includes matching fatigues and cute chants like: "We’re the Spice Girls yes indeed, just girl power is all we need. We know how we got this far: strength and courage and a Wonderbra." Posh Spice, though, is having none of it, and walks through the course in a camouflage-print bodycon dress and stilettos.
15. Clifford’s monochromatic looks
16. This piglet with a rhinestone collar
17. A young boy waking from a coma in the hopes of seeing Ginger's boobs
When The Spice Girls are at the hospital for Nicola, two parents approach the girls to discuss their young son who is unconscious after banging his head. The mom pleads with the girls to try and wake him up by talking to him. The boy is unresponsive to the girls' talking points until Victoria jokes, "Maybe you should take your top off, Geri," who responds, "There's not much point, he's got his eyes shut."
Of course, Malcolm wakes and the Spice Girls are heroes.
18. "Now that's girl power."
Geri says this sweetly after Nicola gives birth to a daughter and it's nice.
19. The Spice Bus jumps the Tower Bridge
After Nicola gives birth, Posh Spice gets behind the wheel of the Spice Bus to transport the girls to their most important concert. In lieu of an expensive CGI scene where the Spice Bus crosses the Tower Bridge as it opens to let a ship through, we see a toy bus make jump over a miniature bridge model. Posh yells: "Hold on to your knickers, girls!"
20. Spicing up your life
When the Spice Girls finally arrive at Albert Hall for their concert, we see their triumphant performance of "Spice Up Your Life" with a montage of every character dancing to their music, including their mysterious label executive, the groping aliens, and Nicola's newborn baby.