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Josie and the Pussycats

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Josie and the Pussycats

Starring: Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid
Director: Deborah Kaplan
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 98 Minutes
Release Date: April 2001
Genres: Comedy, Music

*Also starring: Rosario Dawson, Parker Posey, Alan Cumming, Paulo Costanzo, Seth Green, Missi Pyle, Gabriel Mann

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS is SPICEWORLD but with -- are you ready for this? -- an actual plot. It's about nothing less than a "conspiracy to brainwash the kids of America with pop music," specifically with subliminal messages.

A cute-as-a-button Rachael Leigh Cook (ANTITRUST) plays lead singer Josie McCoy of the Pussycats. Rosario Dawson (HE GOT GAME) and Tara Reid (AMERICAN PIE) play Scary Spice and Baby Spice, oops, I mean Valerie Brown and Melody Valentine, the group's guitarist and drummer. Fiona (Parker Posey), the maniacal manager of MegaRecords, accurately calls the latter two, "Mopey and Dopey." The group is based on a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series from the early 1970s, which was itself based on a 1963 Archie comic book.

As the story begins, a boy band, DuJour, is in a descent so rapid that they'll soon vanish, so their manager, Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming, SPY KIDS) has to locate a new band pronto, or Fiona will have his head on a platter. Once he literally runs into the Pussycats, he decides to make them overnight stars without even bothering to hear them sing. Rocketing to number one in their first week, their fame is like a sudden and unexpected tornado.

The movie, written and directed in a collaborative effort by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, who last gave us the miserable comedy CAN'T HARDLY WAIT, is full of fun hi-jinks and lots and lots of high energy music. The songs are actually sung by Kay Handley of Letters to Cleo, but the three lead actresses sing back-up.

The funniest parts of the story are the product placement parodies. Everything in the girls' rooms from the wallpaper to the bedspreads is filled with corporate logos. "We will turn the world into one gigantic TV commercial," Fiona brags. Usually spectacular, Posey delivers a chillingly off-kilter performance as the weird, wacky woman CEO of MegaRecords. With their subliminal messages, MegaRecords is able to turn the opinions of millions of young consumers on a dime, causing them to shell out cash like a broken slot machine. Thinking thoughts like, "orange is the new pink" and "feathers are the new rhinestones," the teens have to go out and buy the latest fashion fad to replace perfectly good items that they already have.

Eventually, of course, Josie rebels against being a "trend pimp" for Fiona, and begins to sing songs free of secret messages. Even if the movie isn't exactly unforgettable, the same can't be said for the main song, "3 Small Words," which sticks in your brain like Super Glue. You don't think that there really are some hidden messages in it, do you? Personally, I don't. At any rate, I'm too busy right now to think about it. I've got to buy some new Nikes so I can walk to McDonalds and get a Coca-Cola and a Big Mac. After that there are 17 items of designer clothing at the mall that I just remembered that I absolutely have to buy before sunset.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for language and sensuality and would be acceptable for kids around 7 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ***. He said that it was funny and that he liked Josie and loved the music. He remarked how much the film was like SPICEWORLD.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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