Josie and the Pussycats review by Matt Fuerst
Not being teenaged, nor a girl, it may be unusual for a grown man to spend a Saturday afternoon jammin' along with Josie (played by the ever cute Rachael Leigh Cook), but I do have an excuse for myself. I am a nerdy comic guy and I knew that Josie was based on the Archie Comic world of Riverdale, so that drew me in. It's kind of sad a big budget version of Archie never has and likely never will be made (it's just not hip enough) but a small parter like Josie has enough OOmph to get made. Oh well, I guess it's time for me to join the real world.
The story line goes something like this. The advertising and pop media worlds are secretly tied together, and advertisers use subliminal messaging in pop music to influence the big spenders, the teenagers. The ridiculousness of the advertising world is a theme that is common throughout the movie to an absurd degree. Now, when a high-horse-ridin' reviewer says a theme is common throughout a movie, you generally expect it to rear it's ugly head several times within a movie and be present for a good percentage of the flick, but I mean it when I say it is pervasive through Josie to absurd levels. But more on that later.
The evil record promoters latest band is starting to catch onto the concept that the record label is using them to push products, so the record company stages an accident and has their plane crash. Problem solved. ("Do you think it's a coincidence that so many rock stars die suddenly" a villain says.) The Pussycats are a struggling little band used to playing the club scene, except the clubs are all taken and they get stuck with playing the bowling alley, last lane on the left. Evil record producer proceeds to swoop into town, snatch up the first band he comes across (talent isn't really important in pop music) and offers them a record deal.
All the prototypical stuff happens then, the girls are showered with extravagant goods, live the high life, romances bloom and are in question, band members get jealous of each other and bicker and fight. In the end, good overcomes evil, the plot is exposed, the children are safe to have free will. The real question is, now that they have the free will, what will they do with it? Continue to go to Abercrombe and Fitch, or buy clothes at Walmart?
Well, you've probably skipped ahead and or know that I gave this a 6, which is pretty high for such a formulaic flick. What can I say? I enjoyed myself. I think the main goal of the film was to portray fun, and in that respect, it achieves what it sets out to do. The directors, a combo job of Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan coming off another fun teenie movie Can't Hardly Wait fill each shot with enthusiasm and glee. I caught the bug, and found myself bopping right along with the film.
Now, onto the product placements. Consumerism and our Western ways is the main topic of the film, and according to IMDB, we are treated with 73 different companies products blatantly placed throughout the film. That's a lot and you will begin to feel overloaded almost immediately when the girls enter the big rock n' roll world. While on purpose, it ends up turning the viewer off. We get the point quickly and are forced to suffer through it for the remaining of the movie. It's distracting. I felt like I was serving an advertising based prison sentence for leading a relatively spartan lifestyle (since I do buy my clothes at Walmart).
In the end, I suggest you give it a shot. I'd certainly feel comfortable letting my future teenage daughter sit down and enjoy Josie and the Pussycats and if you catch it on cable some day, give the clicker a rest and see what you think.
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