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Josie and the Pussycats (April 12/02)

Though it's mildly entertaining and contains some energetic performances, Josie and the Pussycats never becomes anything more than yet another flick aimed at the MTV-watching prepubescent set.

Rachael Leigh Cook stars as Josie, while Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson fill the Melody and Val roles, respectively. As the movie opens, they're a struggling garage band, stuck playing gigs at bowling alleys (their profit: $20, minus a $5 fee each for rental shoes) and generally lamenting their existence. Lucky for them, a top music executive (played by Alan Cumming) has just murdered his biggest act and now needs a new band to fill their shoes. Enter Josie and the Pussycats. Cumming signs them immediately, without hearing any of their music, and they're off to New York to record a single and film a video. But alas, trouble lurks beneath the surface. Cumming's boss, a vicious executive played by Parker Posey, has dastardly plans to hoist whatever trends she deems appropriate on the nation's teens via subliminal messages inserted into the Pussycats' music. Will the Pussycats become wise to her evil scheme? Duh.

Josie and the Pussycats isn't a terrible film, it's simply stale and limp. The movie opens with great promise, though, as we're introduced to Du Jour - a Backstreet Boys-esque band that's killed when they discover the subliminal messages. Du Jour is comprised of four complete idiots, which is what we suspect makes up the real boy bands the parody is based on. But as the movie kicks in, and we're introduced to the punk stylings of Josie and the Pussycats, the ridiculously familiar plot also kicks in. By the time Josie's been brainwashed into ditching her band mates, you'll be rolling your eyes in disgust.

The movie tries desperately to appear subversive by mocking the familiar elements of our culture (the TRL phenomenon, the consistent barrage of advertising everywhere, etc.), but instead eventually just becomes another product it so eagerly ridicules. The rapid-fire style of direction also contributes to this feeling, which resembles a Behind the Music special (another show parodied - poorly - by the film). But really, the biggest problem here is that none of this is interesting. The various supporting characters prove to be far more interesting than the trio of Pussycats, and indeed, one wishes an entire movie had been made about Cumming and Posey.

The film's enthusiastically acted, though, with the three girls giving appropriately bubble-headed and spirited performances. Cumming (who's apparently picked up where Richard E. Grant left off in Spice World) seems to be doing an impression of Stewie, the megalomaniacal baby on Family Guy. His over-the-top performance is certainly a highlight, as is Posey's bitchy yet oddly insecure character.

Josie and the Pussycats, while never quite dipping into the realm of complete suckiness, is nevertheless somewhat disappointing and ultimately forgettable.

out of

© David Nusair