Retro Review: Josie & The Pussycats

Written: April 18, 2001

Yesterday I caught an early screening of SPICEWORLD 2. Oops I mean “Josie and the Pussycats”.

“Josie” is based on the Archie comic and cartoon of the same name. Growing up in suburban Riverdale, Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook) and her friends (Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson) dream of making it big as they start to learn the real meaning of what it takes to be real rock n’ roll stars.

One freak day after finishing a performance, a van nearly runs over Josie and her band. The van is driven by record promoter extraordinaire Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) who has a revelation as he catches the girls in his headlights. Frame quickly signs the girls to full-blown contracts and the stage is set.

Lurking in the shadows behind all the glitz and glamour of Frame’s record label MegaRecords is a sinister plot to brainwash the youth of America with subliminal messages. The villain at the center of the plot is MegaRecords CEO Fiona (Parker Posey).

Can the Pussycats get over the brilliance of fame and realize they are being setup? Or will their special friendship bound be squashed by the evil Fiona?

“Josie and the Pussycats” is another one of those daft cartoon remakes that really has a hard time adjusting to the silver screen. The cartoon itself wasn’t very original in its conception and this is evident in the silver screen incarnation. It was basically the “Beatles meets Scooby Doo”.

With the film, the filmmakers really lost the innocence and interaction between the characters as they went for more “music-world” than “Scooby-world”. This film is a lot like why “Rocky and Bullwinkle” failed so badly last summer. They couldn’t find a balance between the cartoon world and our own.

With my first look at the sets, I was saying Spiceworld sequel without the Spice Girls. At least with Spiceworld you had a band you knew could sing and had their own music.

I think this movie would have worked better if they maybe cast real musicians instead of actors. There is a lot of “Beatles” movie metaphors and inspirations with a cartoonie subplot.

The performances of the Pussycats are daft and uncomplicated and that really bugged me. Alan Cumming is the most memorable as their slick manager but you do have to wonder if he is being type-cast. Posey doesn’t come off very rosy as the lead villain. Her performance reminded me a lot of Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil in those Dalmatians films than anything else.

The saving grace of this film is the music. The music has a great beat, grasping rock lyrics and really livens up a lot of the film’s musical montages. These musical numbers are stylish and stripped right from MTV but are the most fun in the film.

As teen music goes, this film does have good music. This does make you wonder why couldn’t they have cast real musicians as the Pussycats instead of having a mysterious lead singer and the actresses as back-up. This mysterious lead singer is Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo. She is definitely deserves an honorable mention for her great lead vocals.

I leave this review with a word of caution. This film is full to the rafters with product placement that is kind of annoying and acts as a huge commercial. Its an inside joke but does wear thin real fast. I just hope the upcoming Scooby Doo live-action movie is a lot better than this.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s