Let’s see… “Josie and the Pussycats is like a Twinkie.” No, I used a food reference to start my Punisher review.
OK, OK, cat references… “Hairball.” No, I used that in my Garfield review. Dang!
Umm… “Josie and the… Wussie-Cats!” Wow, not only is that lame, it doesn’t make any sense.
Well, lack of a pithy opening aside, obviously Josie and the Pussycats isn’t great art. It’s not even a great movie. And, to be honest, no one really intended it to be.
It’s pretty fluffy and formulaic (maybe Twinkie will work…) but when that’s all a movie is aspiring to be it’s hard to really come down on it.
Based on the Archie/Hanna-Barbera characters from the 70’s, Josie is basically a way for teen/tween girls to break up an afternoon of shopping at the mall and giggling about boys.
It’s actually cast quite well. Rachael Leigh Cook stars as the red/orange/pink-haired spunky guitarist and brings the requisite level of mousy cuteness. Tara Reid plays drummer Melody Valentine with a sexy saccharine smoky stupidity that’s honestly so good you have to wonder. And Rosario Dawson rounds out the trio by stealing most scenes as sassy bassist Valerie Brown.
Alan Cumming and Parker Posey are both unfortunately simply out for paychecks as the crafty do-badders looking to use the Pussycats to hide subliminal messages to control the nation’s teenagers’ spending habits.
Parker especially turns in a performance that makes me embarrassed for her. Where is the Dairy Queen community actress or the crazed catalog snob I loved so much in recent Christopher Guest films?! You can do better Parker.
Anyway, as frothy as the movie is, it actually takes a misstep and tries parody/show us the dangers of product placement and trend chasing.
Throughout the movie the frames are peppered with company logos and products to drive home the point that this is bad! Not only is it heavy handed and unnecessary, I gotta believe that these companies shelled out some good dough to be included, which just sort of nullifies the whole stupid moral anyway.
Yes, the musical montages are lame and numerous as we see the girls giggling, crying and washing cars, but there’s actually some funny material every so often.
My favorite is a scene where the girls attend a party and we get a peek into their thoughts. Josie and Valerie are both frightened and wary of their new-found fame, but Melody is singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in her head while clapping to herself. I also enjoyed the voice of subliminal doom being the MovieFone guy.
So, if you like cute young girls wearing felt cat ears and little else (and who doesn’t?!), Josie and the Pussycats isn’t a bad way to waste 98 minutes, but it’s certainly not the attack on commercialism that the directors tried to cram in either. It’s at best a guilty pleasure and at worst your typical teen flick.
Oh! Oh! I got it! I got my opening!
“Josie and the Pussycats is a Fig Newton! It’s kinda soft and sweet and it’s trying to appear to be good for you when in the end it’s just junk food!”
(I know it’s a food reference, but I really like Fig Newtons.)