Rental Corner: “Pussycats” fun but lack much bite

It could have been worse...

It could have been worse…

“Josie and the Pussycats” are a popular rock group that originated from the Archie comic’s hometown Riverdale but people probably remember them best for the Hannah Barbera TV show. I do recall seeing some episodes as a kid but my memory is very faint. I do recall the significance of the band was how they were dressed up like cats complete with ears and tails. Joining them at the aid were two managers that were shifty and acted more villainous than heroic which struck me odd as a kid. What I do remember is seeing promos for the 2001 live action film and thinking how could they take another childhood property and make it for the adults. Now that I’m older and finally got around to seeing it, I wonder more why this wasn’t given the wider appeal for kids and adults because its light nature could be perfect for family viewing. And yet, fun as it can be, it has problems.

Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson do a great job bringing the band to life as the Pussycats are depicted as less of a 1970’s disco act and more of a modern rock band with a tablespoon of punk. At times, they can be be fun to watch with how their different personalities play off of each other (with the exception of Tara’s bubbly performance of Melody getting split laughs and groans) but it teeters too close to a Spice Girls parody and feeling like a Spice Girls clone at the same time. Its the standard group with different character traits that play off each other but its handled fine.

Alan Cumming plays a sneaky promoter named Wyatt Frame from MegaRecords who recruits the band in becoming their manager in hopes of getting a big hit for the company after his last band goes down in a plane. But as it turns out, there’s a great conspiracy at MegaRecords as its owner (Parker Prosy) wants to use music to send out subliminal messages so listeners (mostly teenagers, obviously) to manipulate their spending habits and lifestyle ranging from what coffee they should drink to even the style of clothing. Even Josie and the gang gets subjected to the brainwash as their band becomes number one within a week and slowly the group starts to wonder just what is behind those platinum selling CDs that are being produced.

In some ways, this is a good concept on satirizing big corporations and their motive on what they sell to young minds advertises their identity, but it doesn’t feel completely there. Some scenes lead to great comedic moments with teens rushing for the next “big thing” they should have and moments of demonstration do get a decent chuckle. But what contradicts it has to be the never ending line of product placement that is every single frame of the movie from beginning to end. This helps it as well as harming it to the point midway we either get the message and wish it would stop or just cut to the point and stop littering the screen with Coca Cola products or the logo for Target.

I fell like this is a much lighter take on John Carpenter’s They Live where aliens are trying to convert humans into consuming machines with billboards that read “Consume and Marry” or money that says “This is your god.” But the tone of the film is more incline with The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Wayne’s World (actually more Wayne’s World) and they didn’t resort to the point where the aspect of product placement was literally hitting you over the head with it. It all builds up to a big joke in the end but it doesn’t feel like a satisfying payoff. The acting complements this with Alan Cumming going hilariously over the top when needed while everyone is aware of the ridiculous nature of the movie without sending too many “winks to the camera.”

In fact, the whole tone of “Josie and the Pussycats” is rather cartoony and over the top to the point it can’t be taken seriously. Its a tour de force comedy that is trying out satire rather than throwing something at the screen and seeing it sticks. Most of the satire does work but some of the jokes don’t get too many laughs. As said, the character Melody is so bubble-headed that you wonder if she was experimented on by scientists before being let out into the real wold with her absent minded personality. Even the villain’s motive is so stupid that you can’t help but laugh at how so much effort went into an evil plan for such a silly reason.

I don’t think this movie is that bad as many make it out to be but it falls flat of being anything perfect. At times it can be smart and clever and at times it feels more like a Wayne’s World clone with the idea of an underground talent being manipulated for sponsorship or in this case controlling the mind of America’s youth and pop culture. But there really isn’t that much risk going on here. When something bad happened in the universe of Wayne’s World, it felt like the whole world was in peril. In the universe of Josie and the Pussycats (at least the movie), if something bad happens, there really is no feel of endangering our characters because when someone gets hurt, they come back in a cast or with minor scratches. Again, I know “Josie” is meant to be light-hearted but with a movie taking on themes of subliminal messages and consumerism, you wish it took more risks. But as it stands, its a harmless flick I’m sure you’ll be safe watching. I can’t remember any bad morals it was saying or anything completely offensive about it (well, maybe the Valerie character getting the shaft at times which is questionable). Its just goofy fun that I’m sure won’t rot your brain. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pre-order Guardians of the Galaxy and the new Turtles movie while purchasing a furry suit and hoping my grocery store has plenty of Cherry 7 Up in stock….wait, what?

About moviebuffmel90

Considering my passion of films, I apprecaite reviewing them and recommending ones either some have heard of or know little about.

Posted on September 4, 2014, in Rental Corner and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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