Josie and the Pussycats
For Josie and the Pussycats the genre is campy teen flick. The story is based on the Archie comic by the same name and follows three young women as they try to become rock musicians
Not all movies can aspire to be another Citizen Kane. Some are intended for a momentary diversion from the everyday humdrum life. When I review a film I like to compare it to others in the same genre. For Josie ad the Pussycats the genre is campy teen flick.
Josie and the Pussycats is based on the Archie comic by the same name and follows three young women as they try to become rock musicians. The girls, Josie on vocals and guitar (Rachael Leigh Cook), Valerie (Rosario Dawson) on bass and drummer Melody (Tara Reid) live in the small town of Riverdale. They work extremely hard for gigs that bring them a total of five bucks a night. The girls have a dream that they feel is far off. Little do they know, Mega Records executive, Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) has just destroyed his boy and was looking for a new band. He finds the girls and rockets them to stardom. The problem is Wyatt and his boss Fiona (Parker Posey) are using rock music to send subliminal messages to teenagers forcing them to buy more and more things.
Sounds lame? Yeah, it is. But sometimes a movie can be carried by sheer energy. The important thing is the film cannot take itself seriously. Josie and the Pussycats doesn’t. There are little inside jokes throughout the movie For example, in a scene where the girls are in a private jet one of their friends is with them and Val asks ‘why are you here?’ The friend’s response is simply ‘because was in the comic’. There are also numerous corporate logos in Josie and the Pussycats. According to the commentary none resulted in money for the production company. Since Josie and the Pussycats is about marketing to teens it actually works. MTV is also featured in many places. Carson Daily is evil in Josie and the Pussycats. He tries to kill Melody. Since at the time he was engaged to Tara Reid provides another inside joke.
This is a case of excellent actors just trying to keep in front of the public. Josie and the Pussycats is far from a decent vehicle for their talent but it does seem like the cast did enjoy themselves. Cook is perhaps best remembered for the anti-drug pubic service commercial where she destroys a kitchen showing the affects of drugs. She is a fine actress whose time has not yet come. She plays Josie with humility and energy. Dawson provides the film’s only serious side. She is the one that is hit hard by the inordinate attention given to Josie. Her character gives Josie and the Pussycats a little bit of grounding in reality, required to make the fantastic, almost surreal scenes work. The part with the most off the wall comedy to it is Reid’s presentation of Melody. She is completely separated from reality, even for what passes for reality in Josie and the Pussycats. She brings blond jokes to a new level. The thing is, Reid is an excellent actress. To prove this point get a hold of films like Body Shots or Around the Fire. You will not believe it is the same actress. Cumming is in danger of becoming a bit type cast. His role here is too similar to another fluff teen piece, Spice World. He hands in a good performance for the lighthearted villain here but again, he has done better. The one disappointment in the casting was Parker Posey. Once the Queen of independent films she has lately become a character actor in much smaller roles. For those who were fans of Galaxy Quest look closely at Alexandra. The actress is Missi Pyle. She was Laliari in the female alien in Quest.
Josie and the Pussycats had not one but two directors. Why, I couldn’t tell you. Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan shared the director’s duties for Josie and the Pussycats. To their credit they carry it off better than I expected.
Josie and the Pussycats does have energy and is paced to move. Some care was actually given to details. For example, the girls were sent to band camp (no American Pie jokes please) to actually learn their instruments so unlike so many films the girls are doing what they are supposed to be doing during the music scenes. While the script is less than brilliant the direction holds Josie and the Pussycats together. Yet, the two of them as a writing team holds considerable promise.
The disc is very well done. The sound track is in both Dolby 5.1 and DTS. The DTS version has a bit more rear fill but not as much as other DTS discs I have heard. The video is pretty standard 1.85:1 anamorphic. Both sound and picture are clear and without defect although the disc did require cleaning prior to being able to watch it. The extras are polished and fun to watch. The behind the scenes featurette is called ‘Backstage Pass’ and is mostly concerned with how well the girls bonded and how hard they worked to learn their instruments.
Apparently, they can actually play the three songs featured in Josie and the Pussycats. The are also mock music videos by the phony boy band and the Pussycats. The commentary is better than most. He directors seem to have enjoyed making Josie and the Pussycats and it shows in their comments. In all this is only average when you consider it against films in general but it is better than most of the teem romp genre.Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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