Josie and the Pussycats (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner29/08/2001

Four stars out of five
Running time: 100 mins

Amusing comedy that transcends its all-too-obvious silliness thanks to a trio of sweet performances, some catchy songs and some spot-on gags at the expense of teen culture.

Josie and the Pussycats is based on a group of characters from the American ‘Archie’ comics (popular and well-known over there, less so over here) that were eventually given their own short-lived Hannah Barbera cartoon that anyone under 30 will struggle to remember.

Luckily, no knowledge of the original is required in order to appreciate the film. Basically, Josie and her two best friends Valerie (Rosario Dawson from Kids) and Melody (Tara Reid from American Pie) are a struggling band trying to build up a following.

Meanwhile, Alan Cumming (the best thing in the movie that isn't related to reasons that are both Shallow and Obvious) plays Wyatt Frame, a record producer looking for a band he can make into the Next Big Thing.

This is so he can brainwash the youth of America by planting subliminal messages in their songs (e.g. "Orange is the new pink", "Heath Ledger is the new Matt Damon" etc), as well as creating meaningless catchphrases such as "This movie is totally jerkin!".

That's pretty much it - it's basically a Scooby Doo plot, something that the hilarious ending really makes the most of. The performances are all excellent though.

All three girls are adorable, Cumming is hilarious, Parker Posey (as Fiona, Wyatt’s boss) equally so, and there's good support from a bunch of people you'll recognise but won't be able to place (e.g. Missy Pyle, who was in Galaxy Quest and Paulo Costanzo, who was in Road Trip).

And, of course, the members of aptly named boy band Du Jour, whose ever-so-slightly dodgy song ‘Backdoor Lover’ is one of the film’s comic highlights.

The most notable thing about the film is the huge amount of product placement - there is some kind of product placement in every scene, if not every shot.

It's obviously deliberate, since even Tara Reid's hotel shower is sponsored by McDonalds and has the logo and dolls all over it - various bedrooms etc are the same.

The message of the movie is clearly that you shouldn't conform and that movies / music etc are all trying to sell you things, and that product placement is, in effect, a form of brainwashing.

You could argue that the filmmakers have got the best of both worlds - all the sponsorship money while still making their main point. If rumours are to be believed, it's worked, because apparently American teens were booing the logos as they appeared.

Nagging doubts remain, though, and if first-hand experience is anything to go by, there’s a strong possibility you’ll emerge from the movie craving a burger from A Certain Fast-Food Chain. As such, you’re left wondering if the point couldn’t have been made with ‘fake’ products, as in The Truman Show.

In the end, however, the product placement is part of the joke and never really detracts from the movie as a whole. The movie is equally fun, funny, silly and cute, and it has a collection of likeably catchy songs to boot. Recommended.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 14:34

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