Josie and the Pussycats Review
It was with great trepidation that I sat down to watch Josie and the Pussycats - I'd heard the negative buzz from the US, but the critical opinion in the UK has been a lot more favourable. Probably because the UK audience 'gets it' more than the Stateside one.
Josie and the Pussycats is loosely based on a seventies cartoon series - we get to see many of the characters from that series brought to life in the live-action big screen version. At first glance it appears to be little more than a very superficial comedy aimed at a pretty young audience, but only a few minutes in you actually come to realise it's far more than just that.
Rachael Leigh Cook plays Josie, the singer from the struggling band of the title. Her friends - Val (Rosario Dawson - the more sensible one) and Melody (Tara Reid - the bubbly but dim one) - make up the rest of the band. When world-famous boy band DuJour (a hillariously accurate piss-take of modern boy bands) go missing following a plane 'accident', MegaRecords are looking for a new group to fill their place. Alan Cumming plays a completely over the top Wyatt Frame, the talent scout who 'discovers' Josie and the Pussycats after yet another unsuccessful 'gig'. Suddenly the Pussycats shoot to fame - but their success seems too good to be true and when Josie discovers that MegaRecords are using the band to brain wash teenagers with subliminal messages in their music, things take a decidely sinister turn. The pressures of 'success' puts extra strain on the band with Val becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that Josie seems to be who the world's interested in, and not the band.
Just a little scratching under the surface reveals Josie and the Pussycats to be a deliciously satirical film which effectively rips into what makes some areas of the music industry (the American music industry in particular) little more than a huge advertising gimmick. The product placement has to be seen to be believed, and while it almost certainly brought in a tidy penny, it effectively adds to the feeling that the writers were taking a broad swipe at such a wide range of things. The opening scenes on DuJour's private jet for example see the inside of the plane plastered with Bounce (the clothes softener) boxes, while one scene with Melody in the shower has the McDonalds logo just about everywhere. There are also plenty of cameo appearances - although many will be lost on the UK audience.
The film succeeds at giving you something to keep the kids quiet, while there is plenty of adult humour to make the experience very enjoyable for pretty much anyone. The 'honk if you like Pussy (cats)' gag early on in the film was laugh-out-loud funny (although may wear a little thin after a few showings). Alan Cumming delights in his role - he's so over the top it's unbelieveable and it's obvious that the cast and crew had a lot of fun when making the film. At times the film feels very much like something out of the 'Wayne's World' mould while at the same time gives plenty of food-for-thought.
All in all this was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. The only real problem is that the people who'd get most out of this film will probably avoid it likely plague due to the fact that it looks very much like it could just be a cheesy teen comedy (although it does have more than its fair share of cheesiness) with little in the way of depth. The target audience isn't really the one that the film will appeal going on first impressions.