Imagine a world where disposable, manufactured pop-stars are used by giant corporations to sell their wears via subliminal messages in music and where musical creativity takes a back seat to the almighty dollar. On paper, Josie and the Pussycats reads more like a music industry version of Food Inc. than a delightful, pre-teen romp. The cynic in me had to remind myself on more than one occasion that it wasn’t actually a documentary.
When Du Jour, the biggest boy band in the world (featuring Seth Green andBreckin Meyer) disappear after a freak plane crash, record executive Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming – Boris from GoldenEye, who also happened to be my character of choice in GoldenEye64) is left with the job of finding the world’s next big pop-stars.
Meanwhile, Josie (She’s All That’s Rachael Leigh Cook) and her band The Pussycats – Valerie (Rosario Dawson of Clerks II and Death Proof) and Melody (Tara Reid as what I imagine Tara Reid to be like in real life) are struggling to find an audience for their band. After a single chance encounter with desperate Wyatt, The Pussycats are on the fast-track to fame, fortune and all that glitters. But will it lead to gold, or will their friendship be put to the test? Spoiler alert – probably.
Despite the film’s age, Josie and the Pussycats is disturbingly prophetic at times – not coming long after the creation of the TV show Popstars, and pre-dating the juggernauts that were Pop Idol and American Idol. Sure, it takes situations to Zoolander-esque extremes at times, but you may be surprised at how acerbic it can be.
Product placement sarcastically dominates almost every scene, and well known post-nineties media personalities seem to take joy in playing over the top parodies of themselves. But, the only thing that really dates the film are the pre-iPod music devices. There’s a point where you may have to sit your kids down and explain to them what a disc-man is, but overall there’s nothing that wouldn’t be suitable for a pre-teen crowd.
Having not grown up with the Pussycats on TV or in comics, I couldn’t tell you if their translation to the big screen is an accurate one. At times, the characters seem more like the vehicle for someone’s soap box rantings rather than lovingly brought to life comic book characters, but in the end it’s quite easy to overlook the overtly political message and enjoy Josie and the Pussycats for what it is – well made fun that carries a positive “be yourself” message.
Plus, it also features Parker Posey, and she’s freakin’ rad.
Four Pussycats out of five.
Josie and the Pussycats is rated PG and is available on Movie Box until June 8th.