JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS (2001)

josieand

Written & Directed By: Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont
Based on characters created by: Richard Goldwater, Dan DeCarlo & John L. Goldwater
Cinematography By: Matthew Labitique
Editor: Peter Teschner 


Cast: Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, Seth Green, Donald Faison, Paolo Constanzo, Missi Pyle, Breckin Meyer, Alexander Martin, Gabriel Mann 


For years, the record industries have inserted subliminal messages into music so that they can turn teenagers into brain dead zombies who do nothing but buy, buy, buy. And whenever the musician or band finds out the truth, the record company silences them to keep the truth from coming out. When the hot boy band DuJour discovers this, their manager, Wyatt Frame, under his evil, corrupt boss, Fiona, has the plane they are flying in crashed and him looking for a new band to use for their evil schemes. Enter Josie, the ditsy Melody, and the tough Valerie, from Josie and the Pussycats, a small band who wants to make it to the big time. When they are discovered by Wyatt, they give in and become big rock stars. But will they find out that they are just pawns for the record industry or will fame take them over?

The overwhelmingly memorable part of this film is the soundtrack. Which I am a proud owner and the thing I definitely remember the most and keeps this film more on my mind then it probably normally would. I can admit it is a guilty pleasure of mine. As I watched it twice in theaters and own the DVD.

This film has the honor of having he most product placements in a single film. Which I believe was it’s initial aim. As it helps the movies plot to speak of how everything is sold and nothing is quite pure. Though it is sold that way. It also might have helped with the films budget. Which is strange as the film looks expensive but feels more small scale.

The film also feels more designed and planned rather than normal. As every part of it even down to the casting feels meant to appeal to every demographic it can.

As since it is based off of a cartoon series. It can only have so much depth. Though the film tries to keep that spirit. It also seems like it was meant to maybe start it’s own Riverdale universe that would eventually include Archie and the gang from the popular comic books. (Decades before the television show would come along)

As the characters and the film really stay kind of wholesome even when it ventures into cynicism.

The film offers a comedic tour de force from Alan Cumming as the bands new corporate manager. Who is acts more like a dangerous spy and Parker Posey as the label owner and the film’s main villain.

The rest of the cast are put through their motions and do into the material. It feels somewhat tapped by it also. As the performers were relatively new and not showbiz veterans. Which also helps their performances. As it makes them seem more innocent and overshadowed by all the over the top action and characters surrounding them.

As each has a certain character type to play but never really gets deeper than that for them. It has the craziness and energy of the movie HUDSON HAWK. But a little. For cohesive and structured. Though the same cartoonish craziness

I respect the film as it was obviously targeted to pre-teen and teenage girls. By having all the things and trends they liked at the time it also having a positive uplifting message that they can do anything they want to including become a rock star. Including having a romance thrown in. Plus it skewered the music scene of the town with boy bands and girl groups ruling the charts. More pop music than you knew what to do with. Which is where the film runs into one of it’s obvious weaknesses. As from the beginning you can tell it’s meant to be. The problem is Rachael Leigh Cook and Gabriel Mann have no chemistry together. So you are never pining for them to get together.

The film appears to want to have it’s cake and eat it to. As while it is meant to appeal more to a teenage female audience. As well as fans of the comic book. It is written smartly as a satire and commentary if he commercialization of music and trends at the time. That seems was meant more to appeal to parents and critics in the audience. To kind of show it was not only in on the joke but playing dumb and actually smart. Which comes up again and again throughout the film as the film seems to be having fun with trying this subliminal message of satire but also making it so blatant and overblown. As if to play to the cheap seats.

The film feels rushed also. Like it was more a big money casualty that had a release date lined up before a finished script. Allowing the filmmakers to do whatever they wanted and whatever they had to do. As long as it came In on time and appealed to all audiences.

This unfortunately was the last film directed by the co-screenwriters of the film. Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont. Though both have gone onto screenwriting careers as collaborators. They previously had made another of my and plenty of other people my ages guilty pleasure CAN’T HARDLY WAIT. This film was in the same mood as that film onto skewed more a younger audience.

Though Missi Pyle can be hilarious this early role for her playing Alexandra the co-manager of the band. She should be funnier. As it seems like maybe her role was more cut down or given less to do then she should. As at times she is hilarious but most of the time she is left nor to the background.

Tara Reid plays her character like Amelia intelligent Chrissy Snow from THREE’S COMPANY. This was Rachael Leigh Cook’s starring follow up to SHE’S ALL THAT

It’s a shame as she is a talented actress but whole her stardom came at the right time for her career it seems to come at the wrong time for Hollywood. As it seems the roles would be mostly supporting love interests or romantic comedies. Which already had older actresses playing younger and didn’t need actresses who looked like teenagers playing their actual age. Plus she was getting too old to play those roles.

Though this would be one of the first bigger roles in a studio film for Rosario Dawson. Though it would also be the start of her playing more supporting best friend/girlfriend type roles that were usually relegated to the background yet somewhat vital to either the character or story. Which gave her enough training as now she seems to be more of a character actress. Though a recognizable star herself.

Of course most of the films cast and characters are young and attractive and all the other characters who are not are treated as villains. So that the films feels authentically to the youth watching the film. Watching it now might bring you back to your own fandom of music artists and groups at that age. Though it doesn’t go that deep. As the plot more has Josie and the pussycats being more like spokesmodels with their music which is in it’s own way manufactured.

Again the soundtrack is great with vocals for most of noise and the pussycats songs handled by singer Kay Hanley of the band Letters to Cleo. Who also was gestured heavily in the film 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and it’s soundtrack(another winner) the films songs which are mostly power pop were actually co-written and co-produced by Lisa loeb. Which might be another reason I am truly a fan of this film and it’s soundtrack.

It has many memorable cute scenes and luckily is light on quirky and more goes for laughs. Even though at times seems to bite off more than it can chew. a little off rhythm at times. That seems more to be amusing itself rather than the Audience. Though it might have come along too soon. Even though it was in the middle or beginning. Of the time it was spoofing. It just seems like the films went over the heads of it’s intended audience and older audience members that it might have appealed to would never go as it looked too simple and stupid to them.

Though if made today with the same script would have. When thought of as inventive satire of yesteryear and it’s fads.

The film is better than most people give it credit for. Trust me it’s not necessarily great or even that good. It is more just fun for what it is There is barely anything objectionable so it is fine for kids and family viewing. With the speed of the film and the camerawork being flashy and quick along with the editing. Kids should love it.

Grade: C+

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