Review: Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

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Josie and the Pussycats

Josie and the Pussycats

Rating

Director

Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan

Screenplay

Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan

Length

1h 38m

Starring

Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid, Gabriel Mann, Paulo Costanzo, Missi Pyle, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, Tom Butler

MPAA Rating

PG-13

Review

The classic 70s television cartoon and comic book, makes a jump into the modern era with the big screen adaptation “Josie and the Pussycats.”

“Josie and the Pussycats” was about a trio of girl singers, their supposed manager, his sister and Josie’s boyfriend named Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid), Valerie (Rosario Dawson), Alexander (Paulo Costanzo), Alexandra (Missi Pyle) and Alan (Gabriel Mann) respectively. The film opens on a sensational pop ban called Du Jour boarding a plane while throngs of fans swamp the airport. DJ (“Scrubs” co-star Donald Adeosun Faison), Travis (Seth Green), Les (Alexander Martin) and Marco (Breckin Meyer) are form the group, an obvious take off on boy bands like ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. When the band discovers a hidden track on their album, their manager, Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming), arranges for a plane crash to end their lives and go on search for a new band to replace them.

The Pussycats, as their stage name began, was a small garage band who played bowling alleys and other venues for the experience, hoping to one day to hit it big. When Wyatt comes to their sleepy little town, he makes the discovery and ushers them off to New York City to pursue their dreams of stardom.

“Josie and the Pussycats” never takes itself seriously, a requirement for its theme. The band is whisked away to pursue their dreams, but soon discover a hideous plot formed by record label head Fiona (Parker Posey). Much of the film covers the exploitation of America’s teens who rush out in packs to purchase the latest megarecord and purchase the latest, trendy outfits. With the subliminal message idea used in the film it helps reveal a process, that, while unlikely, is always possible.

The film doesn’t just suggest its theme it celebrates in it. The over commercialization of the record industry is ripe fodder for the film as it shows the mass hysteria associated with new fads and big sensations. Everything in the film, down to the set design, incorporates this ideal. The most notable examples are the decoration of the plane in Target symbols and the raiment of Josie’s room in the Revlon logo.

The performances are often comical and often serious with Reid showing the best colors. She plays the ditzy Melody, who fans of the cartoon can tell you, is epitomized though her. Cook and Dawson are also perfect for their roles. The remaining group members aren’t nearly as impressive with Pyle being the worst of the bunch. While she’s a rather good lookalike, she doesn’t bear the bitchy panache that the original possessed. Costanzo bears no resemblance, but tries his best to capture the annoying relevance of his counterpart. The other performers, Cumming and Posey, play it up heavily. Their characters never appeared before and they had the chance to bring some zing to their roles, but both are so over the top that it’s hard to know if it’s acting or just gesturing.

“Josie and the Pussycats” strays from the litter with its obscure, yet strangely topical plot. It rejoices in its own irreverence and manages to be far more topical than it plays to be. Its overriding desire to help the audience understand how easily manipulated they are make “Pussycats” a wonderful treat. The film is both entertaining and moral without being selfish or badgering.

Review Written

April 26, 2002

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