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Josie and the Pussycats

Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson, Alan Cumming and Parker Posey
Based on characters appearing in Archie Comics
Written and Directed by Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont

IN SHORT: Popcorn flick for femme teens. [Rated PG-13 for language and mild sensuality. 98 minutes]

The credit at the end of the movie reads: "The Josie and the Pussycat characters were created for Archie Comics by Richard H. Goldwater and Dan DeCarlo with John L. Goldwater". Goldwater is the publisher. DeCarlo did the writing and creating. Thus it is in comic book land, that the true creators never get true credit. Which is why Dan DeCarlo is currently suing Archie Comics, for his piece of this movie. End of editorial.

They were three unknown, hardworking musicians playing every sleazy dive in town. Filling all rooms to the rafters with their bouncy, heart felt power pop kind of rock 'n' roll. Then, overnight success! Fan clubs! Cover stories on magazines! And the inevitable rivalry as everyone focussed on the lead singer and dissed the rhythm section. Before you know it, the lead singer and the bassist are slamming it out. A well placed punch and one of 'em goes to the hospital with heart damage...

Waitasec. That was the Police. In Josie and the Pussycats it's the intelligent bass player versus the good hearted singer. Instant replay time . . .

They were three unknown, hardworking musicians yadda yadda Overnight success! Fan clubs! Cover stories on magazines! Evil management using their music to subvert the minds of the youth of our world! No, it's not the Rolling Stones and their subliminal Satanic Majesties messages ... it's Josie and the Pussycats!

This oldbrain remembers the cartoon series first hand but we were Marvel zombies. Our sister watched Josie. We wanted to lug her along but she was in Florida . . . singing every word to the cartoon theme song when we mentioned it. So there you have it, the most insidious addictive drug ever unleashed upon preteen girls was, and still is as far as we could tell from this year's audience: Josie and the Pussycats.

Every girl who is thirteen or so will bananas. This movie, thankfully, requires absolutely no knowledge of either the comic or Saturday Morning cartoon -- though we did wonder if the kidlets of today had any idea who Josie and the Pussycats even were. Yep. With their song playing in movie theaters for the last four months, a whole horde of teengirls were screaming along with whatever the lyrics to the current Josie song were, as it played over the end credits.

The writer/director team of Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont, vets of teenflicks must have known they were doomed from the start and it's obvious that the didn't give a whit. Josie is built with tongue planted firmly in cheek, with gags so blatant that the audience is part of one big in-joke. A more perfect paean to product placement on the big screen you will never see, until the next time someone spends all their time trying to figure out how to do an Evian ad in the middle of an aquarium, or build a city skyline out of product logos. That's half the fun of Josie and the Pussycats.

We should point out that the Pussycats are three: Josie McCoy (Rachael Leigh Cook), lead singer and guitar; Valerie Brown (Rosario Dawson), the bassist of color and drummer Melody Valentine (Tara Reid) who is blonde, with every thing stereotypic that goes along with the adjective. Cute as a button and dumb as a log. They're also stuck playing every dive on the wrong side of the town of Riverdale. We know it's the wrong side because the hot dude and lust of Josie's heart is Alan M (Gabriel Mann) and not Archie A, who has two babes fighting over him twenty-four by seven by three-sixty-five and sometimes six. The biggest band in the world is called DuJour, four boys who prefer to be back door men and aren't particularly thrilled to find subliminal messages mixed into their songs by their evil record exec, Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming). Well. One quote from Don McLean's "American Pie" and DuJour is DuMissing -- with a four CD commemorate set being promoted on MTV even before the remains of their private jet is found. Ah, the complexities of modern marketing.

So here is Wyatt Frame, stuck in Riverdale, desperately in need of a new band With evil record company owner Fiona (Parker Posey) breathing down his neck, Frame finds The Pussycats, going nowhere under the guidance of manager Alexander Cabot (Paul Costanzo) and his ever-present hanger-on of a sister, Alexandra (Missi Pyle). The Cabots had things to do in the cartoon but with the addition of new management to the mix, are excess baggage here. As the band becomes a literal overnight sensation, renamed Josie and the Pussycats, internal problems erupt. Those darn subliminals have something to do with, as does a plan to make one of these Cats into a solo star. It's all stuff and nonsense and far more enjoyable than we expected. Even with a Carson Daly cameo, proving once and for all that MTV is, as has been griped about for years, out to destroy new music <vbg>

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Josie and the Pussycats, he would have paid . . .


We've suffered through a glut of kidlet targeted flicks. This one pulls a higher rating than most of the rest that got the disposable $5 dateflick number 'cuz it works, somewhat, for us oldbrains outside the demo. Parents won't be as enthralled as with Spy Kids, but Josie won't bore 'em to tears. Kidlets, especially the girls, will probably eat it up.

(A certain redheaded Mr. Andrews was rumored to appear in this flick. If he was there, we missed him. We did not miss one of his girlfriends, though. You'll know it when you see it. )

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