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.