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Josie And The Pussycats (2001)
Writers and directors: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont

review by Ian Shutter

OK, I wasn't a fan of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series of 1972-4, but my big sister was, so I got to hear about it often enough... Thirty years later, this big screen live-action adventure about a band of 'rock chicks' (based on the Archie comics' characters) can already be found in the cheap racks at most local DVD shops, which is where I found it of sufficient (erm, vaguely campy) interest to buy as part of a three-for-�10 sale offer. Yes, yes, I know - but that's my excuse - so, anyway...

The main points of interest here are Rachael Leigh Cook (I could probably watch her in any trashy B-movie) and the funny music/media industry jokes. As redhead bandleader, Josie, the delightful Ms Cook is nearly perfect casting. She's not quite as good a young actress as Thora Birch, but she's very obviously prettier. Her friends in the all-girl Pussycats band, bassist Valerie (Rosario Dawson) and kooky blonde drummer Melody (Tara Reid) have less charisma or talent, but together they are an endurably tame pop act, shifting, without much effort or angst, from garage practice to stadium event. Signed unheard, yet on-the-spot, by MegaRecords talent scout Wyatt (Alan Cumming, who went on to play the blue-skinned mutant hero Nightcrawler in X-Men 2), after he's disposed of the overly demanding and pompous boy-band 'Dujour' (including an uncredited Seth Green from TV's Buffy) he previously managed, Josie and the Pussycats are given a hot glam makeover - posh gear to complement their kitsch cats' ears and tails (well, you didn't think they'd leave out the cartoon's iconic stage costumes, did you?) and all set, overnight, to become the 'next big thing' - feted by the likes of MTV styled Fiona (Parker Posey at her most eccentric), the publicity-hungry mogul who's secretly aiding an insidious US government conspiracy to 'program' subliminal adverts into pop music.

The routine, save-the-world-from-brain-washing plot is fairly predictable - and routine as sci-fi, of course, but many of the quick-fire script's throwaway exclamatory one-liners ("Heath Ledger is the new Matt Damon!") are genuinely amusing, and a few of the gags are indisputably priceless. There are some big problems, despite the filmmakers' injection of numerous agreeably satirical elements into a bland premise. The frequency of product placements throughout the film's latter half, will occasionally aggravate even the most ad-tolerant viewer, and Josie achieves all her ambitions and overcomes all of her troubles far too easily (stardom?, check; integrity?, check; boyfriend?, check; independence?, check; stagefright? ha-hah!), even considering that Josie And The Pussycats astutely targets those innocent souls amongst the pre-teen audience who might actually find Scooby-Doo movies just too complex!
Josie and the Pussycats

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