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JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

SYNOPSIS:
While boy band Du Jour top the charts, The Pussycats – consisting of Josie (Rachel Leigh Cook), Valerie (Rosario Dawson) and Melody (Tara Reid) – are stuck playing bowling alleys in their hometown of Riverdale. But a cruel accident befalls Du Jour and brings music scout Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) to town. Desperately in need of a new band, Wyatt signs them to a deal with Mega Records without even hearing their stuff. Whisked off to the city, they become the centre of a marketing whirlwind, carefully orchestrated by Mega Records’ chief Fiona (Parker Posey). Will fame ruin the girls? Will Josie notice cute local guy Alan M (Gabriel Mann)? Is there a sinister conspiracy going on? Will Melody ever learn to use normal chopsticks?

“Who would have thought that one of the most perceptive teen comedies for years would feature a bunch of young women who started out in Archie comics? This spruced up version of Josie and the Pussycats is to the teen friendship flick what Scream was to the teen horror flick. The film takes great delight in pitilessly skewering the rampant consumerism which seems to dominate teen life. This knowing look at pre-fab bands, plastic music and cross-promotions is deliberately self-referential and a hilarious take on pop culture. Indeed, at the critics’ screening, hardened scribes were laughing out loud at the journey of Josie et al through the shark pool that is the music industry. Perhaps it’s a little too smart for its own good, threatening to alienate its obvious teen appeal. Eventually it runs out of puff, unable to sustain the premise fully and betraying its comic book roots. But while the film is on its game, these Pussycats really purr. Rachel Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid seem to have a heap of fun as the band members. They never really get the chance to show their acting chops, though this is hardly the kind of film where that’s called for. All their antics however can’t compare with Alan Cumming and Parker Posey, who camp it up outrageously as the record company bosses. Look out too for Breckin Meyer who has a side-splitting (uncredited) cameo as a member of Du Jour. To its credit, Josie and the Pussycats never takes itself seriously. This is a light fun teen romp – with insight.”
David Edwards

“Pussycats has a somewhat dubious pedigree. Not the venerable Archie comic strip from which it’s been adapted, but the writer/director partnership of Kaplan and Elfont, a union which gave birth to Can’t Hardly Wait and the screenplay for A Very Brady Sequel. Not exactly a litter of laughs in either case. Fortunately, this effort is a lot better, even if the Kaplan/Elfont penchant for tired and tedious formula is once again glaringly apparent.
As the lead kitten, Rachael Leigh Cook is awfully cute as a sweet young thang with a touch of spunk; and Alan Cumming, as the tosser who thinks he’s the Cat’s Pyjamas, or at least the Pussycats’ Puppeteer, is as fabbo as usual. He seems to have the happy knack of bringing cartoon-like characters to life—just wait for Spy Kids; and he even manages to inject his villains with soft centres that aren’t too schticky. Don’t get too excited by the fact that Babyface is credited with some of the music. Mainly his talents have gone towards ensuring authenticity for the various styles. I do like the fact that the eponymous trio have maintained a currently unfashionable guitar pop sound/image, which is exploited as a theme to parody the fickleness of pop music trends and more particularly the ‘girl bands’ and ‘boy bands’ that currently corner the screaming-teenybopper market. And the cleverest narrative strategy has been to parlay the Svengalis-behind-the pop-phenomena theme into a universal conspiracy plot. All of the music is fun and hummable, although I didn’t notice a genuine hit. Same with the humour; it’s consistently amusing without ever threatening to have us rolling on the floor. On the whole a reasonable outcome for a comic-strip adaptation: colourful, cheerful and completely two-dimensional.”
Brad Green

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (PG)
(US)

CAST: Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey

DIRECTOR: Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan

PRODUCER: Tony DeRosa-Grund, Tracey E. Edmonds, Chuck Grimes, Marc E. Platt

SCRIPT: Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan, (story) Richard H. Goldwater, Dan DeCarlo, John L. Goldwater (characters)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Libatique

EDITOR: Peter Teschner

MUSIC: John Frizzell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jasna Stefanovic

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 14, 2001







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