JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS
Director: Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Cast: Rachel Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey
MPAA Rating: (for language and mild sensuality)
Running Time: 1:35
Release Date: 4/11/01
Review by Mark Dujsik
Josie and the Pussycats is a commercialized satire of commercialism. It is so confused in its approach and its message, that it actually reaches the point where I wonder if it is a satire of satires. If thatís the case, then itís actually much worse than I first ascertained, because that would mean it promotes blatant commercialism. But on the other hand, thatís giving the movie too much credit. It would imply that the movie is about something... well, just something.
Why must Hollywood take the most obscure characters from old mediums and make feature movies about them? Josie and the Pussycats were small characters from the Archie comics who also starred in a short-lived (about 17 episodes) animated series. Thereís probably a reason for their obscurity, but they must have some kind of following for this movie to be made. The people behind this thing should have listened to the majority of people when they said absolutely nothing about Josie and her band all these years.
The movie opens with some inspired and timely satire. Itís a boy band called Du Jour whose members think it means "friendship," "team work," etc. Their current popular song is "Backdoor Lover" (yes, itís dirty, but there is a song on the charts now called "Liquid Dreams"). They arrive at an airport full of screaming, crying, and incoherent teenagers. Itís a pitch perfect sequence, and it only lasts about five minutes. You see, this isnít a movie about fads no matter what it thinks. Du Jour begins questioning a record producer named Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) about a hidden message on their newest remix. Cumming is a very talented actor who is unfortunately being typecast as the flamboyant villain recently. Here heís a little less flamboyant than usual, but thatís beside the point. Wyatt and the pilot jump out of the plane, leaving Du Jour to crash ("Du Jour means crash postions!") and Wyatt in need of a new teen quick-fix.
Enter The Pussycats. Thereís the guitarist Josie (Rachel Leigh Cook), the bass player Valerie (Rosario Dawson), and the drummer Melody (Tara Reid). We meet them in one of the most jumbled credit sequences Iíve ever seen. The cast and crew credits are mixed together with the charactersí names which are placed over little vignettes of the band at work and at play. The vignettes arenít funny or enlightening in any way. We donít know anything about the characters after seeing them in action. Actually, we donít learn anything about them for the next ninety minutes either. Theyíre all attractive; thatís all the characterization theyíre given. Oh, I almost forgot. Melody is dumb. Really dumb. Wait, maybe you didnít understand me the first timeósheís stupid. She is so dumb, in fact, I wonder she could manage to put her clothes on in the morning, let alone learn to play the drums. She is so dumb, itís not funny; itís obnoxious.
Well, back to the plot. The record company is placing subliminal messages in their music which cause the listeners to love the band and to buy lots of things. And there is a lot to buy. I have never seen so much product placement in a movie. Every shot seems filled with at least one endorsement. The movie seems to be against buying into blatant commercialism, but then what are all these things doing in the movie? The answer would seem obvious, but itís everywhereóoverkill. The movie wants to make an argument against this type of commercialism, but with all the product placement here, it is impossible to do so effectively. So, is it a satire of satires? Is it telling people to buy things? No, itís just confused.
The movie also has a few cameos worth mentioning. Eugene Levy (the dad in American Pie) makes an appearance to explain the intentions of the record company, and MTVís Carson Daly appears as his own wooden, awkward self. Did I mention Parker Posey is in it too? She actually has a big supporting role, though Iíll bet she wished for a cameo instead. She looks completely uncomfortable and is not given a single funny line. Posey is a very funny actress, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt. If she couldnít make the role funny, no one could have.
Josie and the Pussycats is a dead zone of entertainment. Its attempts at satire are contrived and ineffective. The music is your usual kiddy-rockósemi-catchy and repetitiveóand there are only about four original songs. I guess those songs are enough for the distributors to market the soundtrack which is available now at any of your local or online merchants. Howís that for commercialism?
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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