Josie and the Pussycats (film)

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Josie and the Pussycats
Josie-pussycats-2001-movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harry Elfont
Deborah Kaplan
Produced by Marc E. Platt
Kenneth Edmonds
Written by Harry Elfont
Deborah Kaplan
Based on Josie and the Pussycats 
by Dan DeCarlo, Richard Goldwater, and John L. Goldwater
Starring Rachael Leigh Cook
Tara Reid
Rosario Dawson
Alan Cumming
Parker Posey
Gabriel Mann
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Editing by Peter Teschner
Studio Marc Platt Productions
Edmonds Entertainment Group
Archie Comics
Distributed by Universal Pictures (US)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Int'l)
Release dates
  • April 11, 2001 (2001-04-11)
Running time 98 minutes[1]
Country United States
Canada
Language English
Budget $39 million[2]
Box office $14,866,015[2]

Josie and the Pussycats is a 2001 musical comedy film released by Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed and co-written by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the film is loosely based upon the Archie comic of the same name, as well as the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The film stars Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson as the Pussycats, with Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, and Gabriel Mann in supporting roles.

Plot[edit]

Wyatt Frame is a record executive working for record label MegaRecords. The label, headed by the trendy and scheming Fiona, pumps out pop bands and, through an arrangement with the United States government, get teens to buy their records and follow "a new trend every week" by putting subliminal messages under the music. The Government's motive in the scheme is to help build a robust economy from the "wads of cash" teenagers earn from babysitting and minimum wage jobs. When a member of Wyatt's wildly successful boy band, Du Jour, uncovers one such message and asks Wyatt about it aboard their private jet, Wyatt parachutes out with the pilot, leaving the plane to crash and apparently killing Du Jour.

Wyatt lands just outside the town of Riverdale, and bumps into an unappreciated rock band—the Pussycats, made up of three working class young ladies: vocalist/guitarist Josie McCoy, drummer Melody Valentine, and bassist/backup vocalist Valerie Brown. As the Pussycats are struggling financially, they accept Wyatt's offer to a lucrative record deal despite its implausibility. They are flown to New York City where they are renamed "Josie and the Pussycats", much to the girls' discomfort. All goes well and their first single climbs rapidly to the top of the charts, but Valerie grows increasingly frustrated that all media attention is focused on Josie (who is advertised as the group's poster girl) rather than the band as a whole. Melody, too simple to notice the undue attention Josie receives, uses her uncanny behavioral perception and becomes suspicious of Fiona and Wyatt.

Due to Valerie and Melody's suspicions, Fiona orders Wyatt to kill them; he attempts to do so by sending them without Josie on a fake "appearance" on a badly faked set for the MTV show Total Request Live, in which an obviously fake Carson Daly impersonator and the real Carson Daly assault them with baseball bats (the girls survive due to their attackers' incompetence). Meanwhile, Josie plans to attend a gig at a bar by Alan M, a fellow musician and Josie's childhood sweetheart, but Wyatt deceives her by telling her it was canceled. Instead, Josie listens to a new remix of their latest single, and is brainwashed by subliminal messages into desiring a solo career and seeing Valerie and Melody as impediments. After an argument with her bandmates, Josie realizes that the music influenced the fight. Her suspicions are confirmed when she uses a mixing board to make the subliminal track audible, but she is caught by Fiona.

MegaRecords have organized a giant pay-per-view concert, whereby they plan to unleash their biggest subliminal message scheme yet. They force Josie to perform on stage by threatening to kill Melody and Valerie. The badly injured members of Du Jour (who survived by successfully grounding the plane, but landed in the concert of the rival Metallica band and got severely beaten up by its fans) appear just in time to stop Wyatt and Fiona from completing their scheme. In the resulting fight, Josie destroys the machine used to make the messages. The message for the concert is revealed not to promote the band, the label, or a corporate sponsor, but to make Fiona popular. Fiona suffers a breakdown and reveals that she had been an outcast in high school who spoke with a lisp. Wyatt reveals that his appearance is a disguise—that he went to the same high school as Fiona, but was a persecuted and unpopular albino nicknamed "White-Ass Wally". Fiona and Wyatt fall in love. The government agents (shown earlier in collusion with Fiona) arrive; because the conspiracy is exposed, and the government has decided that movies provide a better channel for subliminal messages (breaking the fourth wall with their own "subliminal" message promoting the film and the U.S. Army). The agents arrest Fiona and Wyatt as scapegoats to cover-up the government's involvement in the failed scheme.

Josie, Valerie and Melody then proceed to perform the concert, and for the first time their fans are able to judge the band on its merits rather than be subliminally persuaded to like the band. Alan M comes to the concert and confesses his love for Josie on stage, and she returns his feelings. The audience roars their approval as the film comes to a close.

Cast[edit]

The Pussycats
MegaRecords
  • Alan Cumming as Wyatt Frame, a manipulative promoter who recruits and manages young bands for MegaRecords. He is the manager for Du Jour and the Pussycats, and goes to great lengths to prevent exposure of the conspiracy.
  • Parker Posey as Fiona, the devious MegaRecords CEO who conceived the scheme to use subliminal messages to manipulate teen's spending habits.
  • Tom Butler as Agent Kelly, the government agent who collaborates with Wyatt and Fiona in the scheme.
Du Jour
Cameos

Production[edit]

In line with its theme of subliminal advertising, the inordinate degree of product placement in the film constitutes a running gag. Almost every scene features a mention or appearance of one or more famous brands, including Sega and the Dreamcast (Sega's mascot Sonic the Hedgehog also appears in Archie Comics), Motorola, Starbucks, McDonald's, Gatorade, Snapple, Evian, Target, Aquafina, America Online, Pizza Hut, Cartoon Network (which has aired the cartoon series on many occasions), Revlon, Kodak, Puma, Advil, Bounce, and more. None of the advertising was paid promotion by the represented brands; it was inserted voluntarily by the filmmakers.[3]

Reception[edit]

The film grossed $14,866,015 at the U.S. box office, less than its production budget, an estimated $39 million, resulting in a domestic box office loss.

The film holds a 53% "Rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on an average of 114 reviews, holding the consensus "This live-action update of Josie and the Pussycats offers up bubbly, fluffy fun, but the constant appearance of product placements seems rather hypocritical."[4]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film one-half of a star out of a possible four, commenting that "Josie and the Pussycats are not dumber than the Spice Girls, but they're as dumb as the Spice Girls, which is dumb enough."[5]

Evaluating the film for the Onion A.V. Club in 2009, Nathan Rabin writes that it is "funny, sly and sweet' and "a sly, sustained spoof of consumerism". He rates the film as a "secret success".[6]

Home media[edit]

When released on VHS and DVD on November 20, 2001, a "Family-Friendly" PG-rated version was released as well: this version omitted a great deal of the profanity and sexual references.

Soundtrack[edit]

Released by Sony Music Soundtrax and Playtone Records on March 27, 2001, Music from the Motion Picture Josie and the Pussycats was well-received, certifying a gold album with 500,000 copies despite the film's critical and commercial failure.

  1. "3 Small Words" – Josie and the Pussycats (2:53)
  2. "Pretend to Be Nice" – Josie and the Pussycats (3:50)
  3. "Spin Around" – Josie and the Pussycats (3:17)
  4. "You Don't See Me" – Josie and the Pussycats (3:42)
  5. "You're a Star" – Josie and the Pussycats (2:04)
  6. "Shapeshifter" – Josie and the Pussycats (3:01)
  7. "I Wish You Well" – Josie and the Pussycats (2:55)
  8. "Real Wild Child" – Josie and the Pussycats (1:52)
  9. "Come On" – Josie and the Pussycats (3:17)
  10. "Money (That's What I Want)" – Josie and the Pussycats (2:28)
  11. "Du Jour Around the World" – Du Jour (2:56)
  12. "Backdoor Lover" – Du Jour (3:40)
  13. "Josie and the Pussycats Theme" – Josie and the Pussycats (1:43)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 2001-05-08. Retrieved 2012-12-02. 
  2. ^ a b "Josie and the Pussycats (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  3. ^ from DVD commentary
  4. ^ "Josie and the Pussycats". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  5. ^ "Josie And The Pussycats". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  6. ^ "Totally Jerking Case File 147:Josie and the Pussycats". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 

External links[edit]