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JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, 2001
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JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS,  MOVIE POSTERJOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS, 2001
Movie Reviews

Directed by: Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont

Starring: Rachel Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid, Parker Posey, Alan Cummings
Review by Shad Haque


SYNOPSIS:

A girl group find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy to deliver subliminal messages through popular music in this send up of the music industry and pop culture.

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REVIEW:

For those of us who are sick of pop music, MTV shenanigans and over the top theatricality of the institution these days, a semi-spoof is here. Well, it's actually been here for the better part of a decade, and is thus probably the best kept secret of Hollywood.

The movie opens with the top-of-the-world boy band, DuJour, which includes Donald Faison (Scrubs), Seth Green (Buffy, Family Guy), Alexander Martin (Can't Hardly Wait) and Breckin Meyer (Road Trip). It seems, however, that their manager Wyatt (the always hilarious Alan Cumming) is up to something. Before long, and before great banter can be concluded ("DuJour means crash positions!" "DuJour means seatbelts!"), the plane is going down.

Now we finally meet our heroes Josie, Mel and Val a.k.a The Pussycats - the polar opposites of the feminized metro-sexual DuJour. Josie is the girl next door; the band is hard-working and rock and roll, living off pennies and cheap noodles. Struggling to find well paid gigs, let alone a record deals, they are fortunately (or unfortunately) almost run over by Wyatt - who is now under orders to find a new girl group.

The movie truly starts when we meet Wyatt's boss, Fiona, masterfully played by the multi-talented Parker Posey. Thanks to her meeting with world leaders and other people of power, we learn that the modern music industry is a huge but covert mind control device. American Pie dad Eugene Levy makes a cameo in an educational video to explain to the world leaders that teenagers earn a lot of tax-free dollars, which unlike adult dollars, isn't blown on bills, etc. Thus, we learn it would be a wise move to use subliminal messaging in movies, TV shows and music to sell and merchandise useless junk. We see proof in this when Wyatt brings DuJour’s last ever record to a CD store where simple-minded teens suddenly start to change their personality after listening to the song.

The films takes a dark but predictable detour when Josie – upon hearing her band’s latest CD – naturally starts to fall out with the other girls, in spite of the mushy ‘friends forever’ dialogue of the earlier scenes. Will Josie’s friends help save the day and show her the true path? Well, from a PG movie, I’m sure you know the answer, but I’ll still let you watch and find out at your own leisure.

The film’s over-the-top sensibilities actually make the subliminal messaging system seem believable (well, it would explain chart music of the last decade or two) but is ultimately a goofy comedy suitable for most of the family. It features one of the strongest cast ensembles in comedy in years; Cummings and Posey are in top form and the girls work well together to the extent that you almost believe they’re a real band (they actually went to band camp to learn their instruments) and pop-rock fans will be delighted to hear Letters To Cleo’s Kay Hanley voice Josie in the catchy tunes.

The movie is cutesy and predictable, but it never claimed to be otherwise. It’ll no doubt be a secret guilty pleasure for many, though the target audience will naturally be young teens so expect silly PG humor. Can’t Hardly Wait directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan continue to work well together, particularly by re-hiring the under-rated Alexander Martin as DuJour member. Without spoiling anything, his finest moment actually comes near the end of the movie with a funny Metallica reference.

The photography and the production values are as to be expected from a glossy teen movie production, though many may get over tired of seeing the (intentional) product placement throughout the movie (including a humorous McDonalds sponsored hotel bathroom). You’ll be happy to know no one profited from these and are all used for comical effect more than anything which actually suits the story quite well.

The film won’t be for everyone, however is quite funny and anyone who is anti-pop music should give it a shot. Whilst there are a lot of clichés, there are more than enough hilarious moments to at least rent this. Perhaps if there were more films like this, the youths of our nation may be more tolerable and actually think for themselves. And ultimately, maybe the music industry would be in a much better place.

(But maybe that’s why this movie didn’t do so well…?)

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