Josie and the Pussycats Movie Review
If you're old enough to remember the Josie and the Pussycats cartoon (from the Archie comics), but young enough to have actually watched it, you'll dig this. The plot is a kick -- a trio of peace-loving, friends 4-ever, rockin' chicks get hurled into the limelight as the next big thing... only to realize they're just a corporate vessel carrying subliminal messages that make teenagers part with their cash.
It's the same idea as last year's failed Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, but this is faster and sharper, with the sly flavor of an Austin Powers or perhaps, a Wayne's World. Director-writers Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan create a pseudo-futuristic setting where product placement is in every nook and cranny of life -- right down to the McDonald's washcloth in the hotel that's shaped like an order of fries. Visual jokes like these come in piles, and if you blink, you might miss some awfully good ones (quick magazine headline: Barrymore, Diaz, & Liu to star as Pussycats!)
But let's not get carried away. The story is often mighty thin, but in a movie revolving around rock music, no problem: music video time! Sounds easy, and it probably is easy, but here it works. The Pussycats -- Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson -- play around in the montages with unparalleled adrenaline and happiness, and the songs are flat-out great rock tunes (real lead vocals by Boston rock hottie Kay Hanley). The videos are edited with an MTV flair, but without falling into parody. Makes you wanna leap into the movie and jump around.
A surprisingly plodding final act is saved by our two villains: music moguls played by Alan Cumming and Parker Posey. Both rip into their roles, chewing up the dialogue and the scenery with an appropriate zest, getting nearly all the laughs and looking like they're having a great time, too.
Be aware, however, that some demographics are just not going to get this. If you know about today's boy bands, but are smart enough to realize they're as processed as Hormel meats, this is for you. If you know the connection between Pussycat Tara Reid and MTV darling Carson Daly, then this is really for you.
By the time the Pussycats save the day and reach rock stardom, it's tough to wipe the grin off your face. There's probably another show and another adventure just around the corner. Pussycats in Outer Space, anyone?