JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS
Reviewed April 21st, 2002 by David Nusair
Though it’s mildly entertaining and contains some energetic performances, Josie and the Pussycats never becomes anything more than yet another flick aimed at the MTV-watching prepubescent set.
Rachel Leigh Cook stars as Josie, while Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson fill the Melody and Val roles, respectively. As the movie opens, they’re a struggling garage band, stuck playing gigs at bowling alleys (their profit: $20, minus a $5 fee each for rental shoes) and generally lamenting their existence. Lucky for them, a top music executive (played by Alan Cumming) has just murdered his biggest act and now needs a new band to fill their shoes. Enter Josie and the Pussycats. Cumming signs them immediately, without hearing any of their music, and they’re off to New York to record a single and film a video. But alas, trouble lurks beneath the surface. Cumming’s boss, a vicious executive played by Parker Posey, has dastardly plans to hoist whatever trends she deems appropriate on the nation’s teens via subliminal messages inserted into the Pussycats’ music. Will the Pussycats become wise to her evil scheme? Duh.
Josie and the Pussycats isn’t a terrible film, it’s simply stale and limp. The movie opens with great promise, though, as we’re introduced to Du Jour – a Backstreet Boys-esque band that’s killed when they discover the subliminal messages. Du Jour is comprised of four complete idiots, which is what we suspect makes up the real boy bands the parody is based on. But as the movie kicks in, and we’re introduced to the punk stylings of Josie and the Pussycats, the ridiculously familiar plot also kicks in. By the time Josie’s been brainwashed into ditching her band mates, you’ll be rolling your eyes in disgust.
The movie tries desperately to appear subversive by mocking the familiar elements of our culture (the TRL phenomenon, the consistent barrage of advertising everywhere, etc.), but instead eventually just becomes another product it so eagerly ridicules. The rapid-fire style of direction also contributes to this feeling, which resembles a Behind the Music special (another show parodied – poorly – by the film). But really, the biggest problem here is that none of this is interesting. The various supporting characters prove to be far more interesting than the trio of Pussycats, and indeed, one wishes an entire movie had been made about Cumming and Posey.
The film’s enthusiastically acted, though, with the three girls giving appropriately bubble-headed and spirited performances. Cumming, who’s apparently picked up where Richard E. Grant left off in Spice World, seems to be doing an impression of Stewie, the megalomaniac baby on Family Guy. His over-the-top performance is certainly a highlight, as is Posey’s bitchy yet oddly insecure character.
Josie and the Pussycats, while never quite dipping into the realm of complete suckiness, is nevertheless somewhat disappointing and ultimately forgettable.
Audio: This is just the sort of movie that benefits from an aggressive soundtrack. With wall-to-wall music, this DD 5.1 soundtrack never falters in bringing a clear and crisp sound. The dialogue never winds up drowned out, and while it’s not quite reference quality, it’s still very impressive.
Video: Equally impressive is the video transfer, anamorphically enhanced at a ratio 1.85:1. This is an exceptionally bright and colorful movie, and this transfer adeptly presents that vividness.
Extras: First up is a commentary track featuring directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, and producer Marc Platt. The trio talk about every facet of the filmmaking process, so this proves to be a very informative track. And there are few quiet gaps, so it’s quite entertaining all the way through. Next up is a “backstage pass” which is just a 23 minute featurette. Unfortunately, it’s one of those “let’s look at a lot of clips and show the actors talking about how great the experience was” sort of deals. Nothing terribly informative here. If you’ve listened to the commentary, you can easily skip this. Next are four deleted scenes, running at a total of less than five minutes. Nothing spectacular here, though fans should be happy to see additional footage. Rounding out the disc are three videos (one by the Pussycats and two by Dujour), some cast/crew notes, and a trailer.
Conclusion: Josie and the Pussycats might be fun for less discriminating 12-year-olds but everyone else should approach with caution.
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