Movie News

Alexandra DuPont goes galo-a-galo with JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS!!!

Published at: April 11, 2001, 2:12 a.m. CST

Hey folks, Harry here with the Madame of Movies, the Mistress of Word Thingees, uh... um, wel.. Um.... Ok, well I've got Alexandra DuPont and her vision-thing about JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS... All I can think of though is Rachel Leigh Cook. She is... Rachel Leigh Cook with little fuzzy wuzzy ear thingees... droooooooooool.... Best for objective lady thing look movie, cuz me go slobber at thought.... (drip drip drip) Here's Alexandra....

Holla, Harry et al. Excuse me as I shamelessly appropriate Mr. H. the Strong's convenient FAQ format:

*****

I. TODAY'S SUBJECT:

"Josie and the Pussycats." Based on the Archie Comics title (though really, let's be honest, based on the long-defunct Saturday-morning cartoon show). Starring Rachael Leigh Cook (Josie), Rosario Dawson (Val), Tara Reid (Melody), Missi Pyle and Paulo Costanzo (Alexandra and Alexander Cabot) and Gabriel Mann (Alan M) -- plus Alan Cumming and Parker Posey as the villains. Featuring cameos by Seth Green, Serena Altschul, Carson Daly, Jann Carl and Mr. Moviephone (don't ask). "Written" and directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan.

*****

II. THE GOOD NEWS:

The movie's not NEARLY as bad as the advertising would lead you to assume. That's not to say "Josie and the Pussycats" is GOOD, mind you; it's just that it's peppered with some genuinely funny moments amid some genuinely inept moments. That and -- again, despite what the advertising would lead you to believe -- the movie does retain the silly-adventure format of the cartoon show, which was something of a relief.

*****

III. THE BAD NEWS:

The genuinely inept moments are pretty bloody inept, and ultimately make this movie a failure. More on that in a minute.

*****

IV. BUT FIRST, A NOT-SO-FUN LINK: SOME INFO YOU, AS A COMICS-LOVING GEEK, WILL MOST LIKELY WANT TO KNOW vis a vis THE "JOSIE" MOVIE

The following is taken from the Feb. 8 "Comic Wire" column at the excellent ComicBookResources.Com:

"Dan DeCarlo, creator of Archie Comics' house style and the characters Josie and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, was dealt a major setback in his battle with his former employer in January, when a federal judge dismissed his lawsuit against the company. DeCarlo worked for Archie for 43 years before Archie Comics terminated their relationship last spring in response to DeCarlo's suit, wherein he tried to assert his ownership of Josie prior to the release of the live action 'Josie and the Pussycats' film this summer...."

Want to read the whole sordid tale? It's really kind of sad. CLICK HERE TO READ!!!

*****

V. ANYWAY. WHAT'S THE STORY?

The Pussycats are just another struggling garage band, scraping by while playing bowling alleys for 20 bucks (minus their shoe-rental fees! Oh, the humanity!). They're "discovered" by Alan Cumming's record-company weasel, who works for an utterly insane record-company exec (played to perfection by Parker Posey). Mayhem ensues when the Pussycats (a) become international sensations in one week, (b) discover that they BECAME international sensations because the record company planted subliminal messages on their album to turn teens into consumer zombies, and (c) are forced to deal with rabid fans, evil supervillain record execs, a homicidal Carson Daly and manufactured intra-band friction. It's wacky fun!

*****

VI. SO HOW ARE THE SONGS?

Well, let's just say it's "not my sound." The Pussycats' songs certainly have decent enough melodic hooks -- but the music also suffers (fatally, I think) from that half-assed quality that results whenever creators of polished pop try to capture the garage-band sound. Even worse, the best song of the bunch -- the inimitable "Josie and the Pussycats" theme ("ears for hats" and all that rot) -- is buried in the end credits. It's a criminal mistake.

That said, the movie also features an extremely funny (if utterly obvious) spoof of the boy-band look and sound. "Back Door Lover" by DuJour -- a fictitious group that counts Seth Green among its membership -- is a dead-on parody; it wouldn't surprise me a bit if the song actually charted. The few moments with DuJour are easily the funniest in the film, and you wish there were more of them -- though, to be fair, boy bands also present a mile-wide target for parody, don't they?

*****

VII. AND WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIE'S EXCESSIVE PRODUCT PLACEMENT, WHICH I KEEP READING SNIDE REMARKS ABOUT HERE at AICN?

The rumors are not exaggeration: This is by far the most brazen and insidious and just plain evil product placement I have EVER seen in a movie, period. I doubt it will ever be topped. I'm talking carpeting with (if memory serves) a giant REVLON logo burned into it. I'm talking a romantic aquarium scene with a giant (again, if memory serves) Evian logo plastered behind the fish. It actually distracts from the drama, if you can in fact call this "drama." Ad-wise, watching this movie felt like *surfing the Web*, for pity's sake.

What's sort of evil (or sort of brilliant -- I can't decide) is that "writer"/directors Elfont and Kaplan try to have it both ways -- making vicious fun of consumer culture even as they're showering it on you with the pee-spraying enthusiasm of zoo monkeys. Whether Elfont and Kaplan actually SUCCEED at having it both ways is up to you; me, I needed a moist towellette when the credits rolled.

*****

VIII. WHAT'S GOOD?

1. If you squint hard enough and put on your Dumb Hat, the "vast consumer conspiracy" storyline and depictions of pop-culture-worshipping teens are actually pretty amusing -- and certainly go a long way toward explaining the popularity of O-Town.

2. Cook, Dawson and Reid look adorable in their cat ears and are just incredibly sprightly and charming and game -- often despite an insipid lack of compelling dialogue. Special praise goes to Rosario Dawson, who lends unexpected gravity to her role (she seems smarter than everyone in the room at all times), who has a non-anorexic body, and who has perfected the sneer that Archie Comics cartoon characters exhibit when they're feeling cocky or sly. She's a real find.

3. Also better than occasion demands: Missi Pyle (Tony Shaloub's twittering alien love interest in "Galaxy Quest") as Alexandra. Same goes for Alan Cumming, who oozes Swinging London cool, even when bailing out of an airplane in a bid to kill DuJour. And Parker Posey. Well. Much as she did in "Scream 3," Ms. Posey steals the movie. There's one specific scene in which she commits the theft -- a freakish bit in which she tries to be "one of the girls" and host a slumber party for Josie et al. Before long, she's trying to out-skinny Rachael Leigh Cook and uncontrollably lisping. Believe me -- I was as shocked as you to find myself laughing at this crap.

4. There are bloopers at the end. Bloopers are funny.

*****

IX. WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD?

1. Well, the ESSENTIAL problem with "Josie and the Pussycats" is one of pacing: Each and every time the movie starts building a head of steam -- during the boy-band sequences, say, or whenever Parker Posey's acting gleefully insane-- the filmmakers decide again and again and AGAIN to grind the film to a screeching halt. This screeching halt takes pretty much the same form every time it happens: Just when you're getting sucked into the "Monkees"-esque absurdity, an "emotional" moment involving the Pussycats is staged, with "emotional" music swelling on the soundtrack. Suddenly you can feel the puppet strings tugging fruitlessly at your heart, and just as suddenly the movie ceases to be interesting. These moments are extraordinarily dumb and unnecessary; still, wee little girls probably won't mind them too much.

Memo to Elfont and Kaplan: Didn't you watch "The Brady Bunch Movie"? Didn't you watch "Charlie's Angels"? Those movies worked because they AVOIDED just the sort of grinding-halt moments you embrace! Alas!

2. Poor Tara Reid: Her character isn't funny-stupid, it's embarrassing-stupid -- coming off like Phoebe from "Friends" after selective brain surgery that leaves her unable to embrace abstract concepts. I blame the script, not the actress.

3. In the cartoon, Alan M was always sort of a diet version of Fred from "Scooby-Doo," and that's saying something. Here, as embodied by Gabriel Mann, he's a stereotypical sensitive blue-collar-hipster drip -- a melding of all the worst qualities of James Spader and Beck. Ewww.

*****

You have been duly advised. The Talk Back is now open for drooling commentary on the various assets of Cook, Reid, Dawson et al. Sigh.

Warmest,

Alexandra DuPont

I am the best writer on this site! I dare you to claim otherwise!

Readers Talkback

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  • we'd need to work out the biology on that, but... and I don't care how crazy or stalkerish this seems.

  • April 11, 2001, 2:24 a.m. CST

    COOL, the first one...

    by Bjouron

    I so cannot wait to see this movie. Cool. Philly. The unofficial Zoe McLellan Tribute Page, http://www.zoe.4t.com

  • April 11, 2001, 3:31 a.m. CST

    i go ga ga over the racks of rosario and rachel

    by jon-e-blaze

    yum yum two reasons i mean the 4 reasons i will see this flick

  • April 11, 2001, 5:22 a.m. CST

    Everybody Loves Josie and the Pussy...cats

    by wrestling studd

    Yeah, sure Rosario Dawson, Rachael Lee Cook, and Tara Reid look hot, but couldn't they have made a movie based more on the goofy cartoon instead of making some stupid ass spoof (if it is a spoof) of today's crappy pop band scene.

  • April 11, 2001, 6:17 a.m. CST

    The Canadian newspapers love it.

    by RoystonLodge

    Both the National Post and the Ottawa Citizen, newspapers that are notorious for hating most movies that they review, really loved it. Both reviews give the movie three stars, and state that the reviewer went in expecting the worst, and was surprised to enjoy the flick a whole hell of a lot.

  • April 11, 2001, 8:52 a.m. CST

    A.DuP. responds: I feel compelled to point out that I don't writ

    by Alexandra.DuPont

    ... I certainly don't exult at being "Queen of the Midgets," as I believe Amazing Larry rather marvelously put it. No, the esteemed Mr. Knowles writes those e-mail tags as a little joke every time he posts one of my writeups; his last tag -- "Let me tear apart your writing and grammar skills" or whatever it said -- garnered me scores of e-mails from people who wanted me to proof their Web sites. And now everyone thinks I think I'm Queen of the Circus. Sigh. Damn you, Knowles! Damn you to Styx, sir!

  • April 11, 2001, 9:08 a.m. CST

    DuPont is probably a large man sitting in a basement somewhere B

    by Jobriga3

    she mentioned Comic Book Resources, so she must be cool. I'm going to go get the latest issue of Warren Ellis' Planetary now, and find out everything I wanted to know about Snow and the Four.

  • April 11, 2001, 9:48 a.m. CST

    I had an almost identical review up a week ago, and AICN ignored

    by Cervaise

    http://moviegeek.homestead.com/files/josie.htm

  • April 11, 2001, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Good review as usual.

    by superninja

    Pretty much what I thought: A few funny moments in a laughable film, "set pieces" if you will, staggered in between teen romance drivel. Anything with a Carson Daly cameo sends up a red flag like you wouldn't believe. Cuteness is not enough -- Sailor Moon and Pokemon are cute as well, and I don't have the right parts to go see this just so I can picture a threesome by the leads later.

  • April 11, 2001, 11:26 a.m. CST

    I love it when Dupont's snarky observations...

    by Sabrina

    ...dovetail so perfectly with my own. Watching the "Josie" trailer, I thought "And who's this weedy, neurasthenic loser of the James Spader Look-Alike Contest?" And then Alexandra calls Mann "a stereotypical sensitive blue collar-hipster drip -- a melding of the worst qualities of James Spader and Beck. Ewww." She nails things perfectly when I only sense them. Ms. Dupont is rapidly joining that small coterie of women (including Claudia Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar) for whom I'd Almost Turn Lesbo (that is, if I wasn't already a slave to John Hawkes and James Marsters).

  • April 11, 2001, 12:20 p.m. CST

    Ah Christ, the Canadians like it!?!....

    by Kirk's Toupee

    Must have hockey, Brian Adams, or tukes in it somewhere...

  • April 11, 2001, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Damned peeing zoo monkeys!

    by BigW

    They keep ruining everything! Excellent review, sort of saddens me: I REALLY wanted to hate this movie. Now I'll probably see it on video.

  • April 11, 2001, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Mano a mano is hand to hand

    by jskerr

    Galo a Galo would mean French to French in spanish! Amusing, and I think a lot of talkbackers would love to see Alexandra du Pont go French to French with Josie or just about anybody.

  • April 11, 2001, 1:58 p.m. CST

    Too bad it couldn't have been "a suicidal Carson Daly."

    by Acid_Rain327

    Y'know, all three of those women are really hot, but they couldn't pay ME to sit through it in theaters.

  • April 11, 2001, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Ultimately, this movie can not be reviewed

    by Shady Gray

    It's one of THOSE flicks...the Hollywood Reporter practically creamed their jeans over it, whereas the L.A. Times and Variety gave it mixed to good notices. Every article's assessment comes down to the "excessive" use of product placement (and, no matter how many people tell you about it, you still will never be prepared for the onslaught when you actually see the movie). There is a sequence near the end when Josie is astonished to see 10,000 fans in a stadium robotically mimic her as she puts on and takes off her cat ears. Without uttering a word, these few seconds speak volumes about the corporate conformity and empty values of teens and preteens across the country that give Madison Avenue executives goosebumps. And I salute the filmmakers for tackling such a sensitive (and probably futile) issue in such a mainstream movie!

  • April 11, 2001, 6:21 p.m. CST

    Kiss My Ass Alexandra, This Movie Rocked!!!

    by Cardiff Giant

    Parker Posey is awesome and the movie has lotsa charm.

  • April 11, 2001, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Oh Yeah...Carson Daly As An Evil Conspirator Is Genius!

    by Cardiff Giant

    Had to add that.

  • This movie will do some major business because its geared to the right audiance, 14 year old girls who get ridiculous amounts of money from their braindead parents. Big media corporations just love young girls because they comprise the majority of consumers who buy CD's and watch movies. So these companies direct thier products to this particular age group. Unfortuneatly for the rest of us this means companies will mass produce prefabricated, unimagitive shiet, and why is it always shiet you ask, because young girls have no taste. Ergo Josie and the pussy cats will be a piece of shiet.

  • April 11, 2001, 8:40 p.m. CST

    I don't know what everyone's complaining about...

    by Psyberia

    This movie (drink coke) in no way (buy tampax) affected my ability to think (ck1 for men) like any normal human being (visit roy's used cars).

  • April 11, 2001, 9:55 p.m. CST

    Product placement...

    by The Feature

    The way I see it, the exhuberant amount of product placement in the movie was a JOKE! There was a section near the begining which was nothing but a montage of product logos. I can't imagine that this was actually done for the purpose of advertising, but rather a play on the concept of the brainwashing in the movie. Perhaps I am looking at it all wrong, but thats how i took it, and therefor found it quite funny... -THE FEATURE!-

  • April 11, 2001, 10 p.m. CST

    Saw the movie tonight - it was OK

    by NotchJohnson

    I know I'm probably get thrown out of a plane for saying this, but JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS was an OK flick. I took my sister and her friends to see it, and was surprised. First off, the "It Sucks" factor isn't here. I know we all expected it, but I held my fire about 15 minutes in. My jaw dropped at the sheer number of product placements, but it got so numbing I didn't care anymore. (But now I can't Target store out of my mind...jeez). The actresses are OK, Carson Daly is still a no-talent loser. Alan Cumming has done terrific work (including "Eyes Wide Shut", yes), so a few sell-outs won't hurt him. Parker Posey is finally making $$$ after years of $40 paycheck indies. Rachael Leigh Cook will finally erase the "She's All That Chick" label dangling on her for over two years. Tara Reid....uh, well, after "American Pie 2" I see a Showtime TV Movie future...Rosario Dawson should get out of the teenybopper genre quick....They could have taken the easy route on this, folks, but they didn't. There was so really campy stuff in here, and some OK jokes. I'm gone. Peace.

  • April 11, 2001, 11:28 p.m. CST

    Actors Were Decent The Problem Was The Movie It Self

    by The Founder

    I actually liked the cartoon growing up, but then again I haven't seen it in so long that I'm pretty sure I'd call it crap now.The actors were great with what little they had to work with and what happened with casting a black actress to play Val, last time I checked Rosario Dawson was Hispanic.at any rate the movie had some funny moments and a lot of terriable moments, and I wouldn't recommend anyone to shell out 8 bucks for this movie.I'm really pissed they didn't stick to the premise of the cartoon instead they have this subliminal(spellchecck)message silly plot, which may have worked if they put the script together more, but it does make you think that these pop stars and boybands are doing a little to well in the music industry(think about it they all came out around the same time and just blew up into huge acts) considering the crap music they make.

  • April 12, 2001, 12:12 a.m. CST

    KROQ likes Josie?

    by Toonimator

    surprisingly, LA radio station KROQ's morning entertainment reviewer gave a good review of Josie & the Pussycats. He hasn't been thrilled with any movies lately, but enjoyed this one, pointed out that the bombardment of advertising is meant as a joke (but also works in the studio's benefit from all the ad revenue), to go along witht the subliminal messages the girls hafta deal with. The guy even liked Carson Daly's performance, and KROQ has made a habit of bashing Carson for the past few weeks, his dopey hosting stint on the Copperfield special, and joking about his "enormous" weight gain. And bitching that Tara Reid's marrying him, of course. This review was the first I heard that the overnight sensation of the band is because of the brainwashing of America's youth & that it develops into something like the capers they were involved in on the cartoon. Plus they played a clip of the song we keep hearing on the commercial... not too bad, kinda "Blink 182"-lite. Which makes it a helluva lot better than all the dance-bands--boy or girl--and even better than some of the one-hit-wonder Blink clones. At least it's catchy, which movie songs are supposed to be. It doesn't sound like the disaster recent reviews & talkbacks have made it out to be... might be worth a matinee viewing!

  • April 12, 2001, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Close but no cartoon

    by bwcfly

    Elfont and Kaplan have missed again. "The Brady bunch Movie" was good fun that respected its source and then Elfont And Kaplan came along and wrote a sequel to it that seemed to hold distaste and a mean spiritedness towards the Bradys. With "Josie And The Pussycats" they perform the same disservice. SO MANY opportunities missed: Melody senses danger and her ears DON'T wiggle? Whats with that? Alexandra (played perfectly by Missi Pyle-she nailed the meaness and the fact that her character comes from a CARTOON!!), who was such a great foil for Josie, is relagated to all of 15 lines (though the "I was in the comic book" line was one of the best) and is allowed to go after Alan M. without Josie even THERE. Have Kaplan and Elfont ever heard of character conflict? And despite the fact that Rachel cook is cute and a good actress, she doesn't seem to have any sense of comedy, and is partially responsible for the "screeching halts" mentioned in the review on this site. She seemed to want to bring a little too much "method" to her portrayal of a cartoon character. Though in all honesty Josie the cartoon character was never particularly interesting either. The consumer society satire is funny, but was done better and more simply by John Carpenter in "They Live". Elfont and Kaplan do seem to want to hit the audience over the head with this movie, as subtlety clearly wasn't in mind, but its too bad they shied away from their very unsubtle source. If they had just filmed an episode of the catoon with live actors it would have been funnier than most of what they pulled off here. Their embarrassment over their source material is clear from the opening credits, when they DIDN'T play the cartoon theme song, which would have enhanced the fun/goofy "character" motif. All in all, the film's a dud, despite a few okay laughs, mainly because it had the potential for much more fun. Lets hope whoever's doing "Scooby Doo" actuall LIKES cartoons.

  • April 12, 2001, 3:59 p.m. CST

    kay hanley is a goddess

    by arkhan77

    kay hanley, former lead singer of Letters To Cleo provides the actual vocals for the songs, and that alone is reason enough to see the movie. Then there's the Starship Troopers factor. That is how this movie should be understood. On the surface it is a "cute girls having adventures yet saving the day" movie. but if you really watch it WITH your thinking cap on, you realise that what this movie is saying is "you guys are a bunch of idiots and this is how they take your money and you love it". This is a movie written by an Invisible. Carson Daly probably approached this cameo as a way of laughing at himself, and that's what the homicidal-part of the role does. but his fake TRL footage actually reveals him for the whore that he is. But here is the big secret: Subliminal Messages DO NOT WORK. so the whole bad-guy thingie is irrelevant. the kids don't need subliminal messages to tell them to ape Josie in the earphones scene. they can do it on their own.

  • April 15, 2001, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Product Placement

    by airhockey

    The product placement WAS a joke. In fact, they received ZERO dollars for any of the placements, and even had contracts with all of the companies saying that they were using their products for parody only. It was part of the whole fucking point of the movie, actually. It is sad that the reviewer failed to catch any of that. Don't worry, though, the irony was lost on most people. At one point in the show, I kid you not, I heard a girl behind me go "oh, look at her shoes!"