Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, Gabriel Mann, Paulo Costanzo, Missi Pyle
Written & directed by: Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont
Josie – “Hey listen, lets promise each other something right here and right now ok?No matter what happens, if we become huge stars or we end up hitchhiking back to Riverdale, we will always be friends first and a band second.”
The reason some people misunderstand comic-book movies and presume they are supposed to be films concerned with silliness, probably lies in the title comic-book movie, which gives the impression they’re all meant to be funny.Clearly this isn’t always the case, with many striving to be taken seriously, but for some films being a bit playful is what actually works for them and can create an hour and a half of enjoyable entertainment.For Josie and the Pussycats, a movie which poked fun at the music industry, the film made use of the idea of not being taken too seriously in order to get a message about popularity and consumerism across to the audience.The story told of girl band The Pussycats as they went from nobodies to the hottest girl group around, achieving overnight fame thanks to corrupt manager Wyatt Frame (Cumming) and a system which promoted popularity over hard work.The reason for the band’s success wasn’t because they had found fame through the years of playing gigs at bowling alleys which they had certainly done, but because Wyatt needed to replace his previous hot act, the boy band Du Jour, because they were getting suspicious of their own success.What Du Jour uncovered was a subliminal message implanted by their manager into their records and transferred through their music to encourage fans to buy a variety of different consumer products, including buying into the band itself.With Wyatt finding no further use for Du Jour following the discovery of the subliminal messages, he quickly got rid of the band and then transformed Pussycat members Josie (Cook), Melody (Reid) and Valerie (Dawson) into hot new group, Josie and the Pussycats.Wyatt then used the same subliminal messaging trick with the Pussycat’s records, whilst manipulating each band member to gain complete control of the direction they headed in.Ultimately the girls had to uncover Wyatt’s plot against them and remind themselves of where they had come from, in order to ride remain friends whilst their relationship with each other was truly tested.
Despite the serious sounding nature of the story, the film played upon the old cliché that kids would buy into anything that was sold to them, as long as it was the current fad.The concept for the story itself was easily recognisable, especially thanks to the disposable society angle, which most people were familiar with.This was further helped along by the huge use of product placements which were bought to the forefront to tell the story, whereby a character would suddenly feel the urge to inform everyone they had a desire to own a certain product, before they rushed off to buy it.For the kids in the story it was the desire to own the latest Josie and the Pussycats CD, but for Pussycat member Melody it was the desire to have a Big Mac, despite the fact she was a vegetarian.In essence product placement was and still is a part of everyday life, whether it is noticed or not, so the idea of being subliminal was only pointing out what actually happens during the process of trying to sell products.Sometimes a product can seem ideal at the time, but ultimately it isn’t going to have any staying power and this idea reflected the problems the band faced from being given instant fame, without developing a strong fan base.
The consumer angle aside, the other most noticeable facet to the Josie and the Pussycats movie, was the use of music sung by the band.The songs had to appeal to a mass market in order to make the audience buy into (no pun intended) the idea that the girls were a credible band; which they did.The tracks were catchy pop numbers, which could easily have been taken directly out of the charts of the day and proved the songs had the power to become very infectious.From start to finish the movie was loaded with them and just like any good comic-book it meant that the end result was something worth revisiting time and time again.Not all comic-book movies expect you to want to enter a world defined by darkness or even by camp shenanigans involving Lycra jumpsuits and Josie and the Pussycats was just that type of film.What it did offer was the chance to kickback and have some fun with a sassy girl group, a selection of enjoyable tunes and enough jokes in between to keep it together.Oh and of course the need to rush out and buy the latest copy of the Josie and the Pussycats album and an Abercrombie & Fitch T-Shirt.
COOL CATS: *Josie and the Pussycats was based on an Archie Comic created in 1963 by Dan DeCarlo and was turned into a Hanna-Barbera cartoon during the 1970s.
*Due to the nature of the story there were numerous product placements used throughout Josie and the Pussycats, from companies such as McDonald’s, MTV, Motorola, Starbucks, Evian and Puma.
*Prior to the Pussycats becoming successful in the film, Wyatt’s Boy band Du Jour was the flavour of the month within the music industry with songs such as ‘Around the World’ and ‘Backdoor lover’.Du Jour were played by Alexander Martin (Les), Donald Faison (DJ), Seth Green (Travis) and Breckin Meyer (Marco).
*According to the film, VH1 documentary programme ‘Behind the music’ was created to explain away every mysterious death associated with the music industry so the public wouldn’t become suspicious.
*Since making Josie and the Pussycats, most of the main cast have gone on to appear in other comic-book movies.Rosario Dawson appeared in Men In Black II (2002), Sin City (2005) and provided a voice for animated movie, Wonder Woman (2009). Alan Cumming played Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United (2003), provided a voice for the Garfield movie (2004) and played Loki in Son of The Mask (2005).Parker Posey appeared in Blade: Trinity (2004) and Superman Returns (2006) and Tara Reid appeared in The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005).