Josie and the Pussycats
Directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <email@example.com>
Itís time for an experiment. Everyone take a whole lot of sugar-free gum (preferably the kind with saccharin or Nutrasweet), plop it in your mouth and chew. Now when the flavor is just running out, spit it out and swill a whole can of diet soda. That weird aftertaste, that nagging nasty feeling behind the sweetness: that is what I experienced watching Josie and the Pussycats.
Josie and the Pussycats could be a really fun movie about a girl band saving the world from the nefarious schemes of an evil record company, but it isnít content with being just that. OH NO. It has to try and have a MESSAGE. Get this; the message is: just be yourself. Donít conform to trends. Pop music and popular culture manipulate kids into to buying things and rob them of their individuality. Great message particularly for one of the most hyped, packaged, and product-placement-laden movies of this year.
It was the product placements that really killed my enjoyment of this film. Yes, I understand that the filmmakers were showing the saturation of commercialism by having the airplane and hotel walls be full of brand names, but did they have to be real brand names? How much did Target, Motorola, and Revlon pay to have their names plastered on every surface in this film? Parker Posey even wears a fabulous dress covered with the Motorola logo. Come on: this is like hitting me repeatedly over the head with a hammer while telling me that society is being ruined by hitting people over the head with hammers.
The real tragedy is that the script by Elfont and Kaplan is pretty funny and includes some wonderful "trendspeak" that would have carried the "message" without all the product placements. I never got tired of hearing people say "Pink is the new red" or "Orange is the new Pink" every ten minutes. The performances are top notch particularly Alan Cumming and Parker Posey as Wyatt and Fiona of Mega Records. The Pussycats (Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson) are charming and Donald Faison, Seth Green, Alexander Martin, and Breckin Meyer as the boy band DuJour almost made me weep with laughter. What really made me weep is that they are only in the film for about five minutes. They donít last the opening credits. Sigh.
There are also lots of nice potential plotlines that get bulldozed by the evil brainwashing pop music plot. No one does awkward repressed love scenes better than Rachael Leigh Cook. The scenes between her and Gabriel Mann as Alan M., the cutest boy in Riverdale, are adorable but they are brief and seem just thrown in as an afterthought. As do the scenes of Valerieís (Rosario Dawson) jealousy of Josie, Fionaís insecurities, and Wyattís feelings for Fiona. There just isnít any time for these side plots with all the music videos and commercials for products that had to fit into this film.
The performances are strong enough to make this a definite renter. It is funny; it just has a bitter aftertaste; so rent something else to wash it down.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings