Were audiences really clamoring for the comic book characters Josie and the Pussycats to make it to the big screen? I know I wasn’t. Josie is no Spider-Man or Iron Man or Hulk or Wacky Races and she’s definitely no Scooby Doo. Josie began life as a supporting character in the Archie comics in 1963. The cartoon spun off in 1970 as “Josie and the Pussycats” and lasted a few years until it evolved into “Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space” in 1972. It was a typical Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the 70s with limited animation and familiar actors like Casey Kasem (also the voice of Scooby Doo’s Shaggy) who provided the voice of Pussycats manager Alexander Cabot the third. The girls played pop tunes while solving mysteries and were generally clean cut in both their comic and cartoon incarnations.
The movie owes practically nothing to the comic or the cartoon where the girls essentially dressed in leopard skin style Playboy bunny outfits. In the movie, red-headed Josie McCoy (Rachæl Leigh Cook) the guitar-playing lead singer, Valerie Brown (Rosario Dawson) the level-headed African American bass player and Melody Valentine (Tara Reid) the blonde, feather-brained drummer basically wear cat ears. The ears make them like cats, hence their band name, The Pussycats. Clever, huh? Okay, so the movie starts off with an amusing sequence as we see the latest hot boy band makes a tour stop. They get into a meaningless argument on their private jet when their manager Wyatt, played by Alan C*****g, leaps out of the plane so that the annoying boys crash to their deaths. Not a bad opening. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wished their very same fate on bands like N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys, and a ton of others whose names escape me. Okay, long story short on the plot: Wyatt needs a new band to manage so that he can use an evil device called a mega-something-or-other that adds subliminal suggestions into music controlling youth culture with messages like “Pepsi One is the new Diet Coke.” Nice. Enter The Pussycats. Wyatt signs the girls immediately to a big contract and within a week, they are the hottest thing on the planet with a new name – Josie & The Pussycats. This causes some friction among band members. Then in a conspiracy involving the government, the evil Fiona (played by the always fun Parker Posey) plans to use Josie & The Pussycats to launch a line of cat-eared headphones to teenagers in an effort to further control them. Now, isn’t there already a mind control device for teens that already exists to control music, fashion, food and generaly pop culture tastes? Isn’t called MTV? In the end, the plot is revealed and everything is wrapped up just like an episode of Scooby Doo. But not after the bumbling Tara Reid tortures us with her ditziness. She even has a scene with her real-life sweetheart Carson Daly who plays himself in the film. Funny. The jokes elicit groans rather than laughs and to top it off, the music is lackluster. So for a musical comedy, that’s not a great combination – you know, unfunny jokes and weak music. I only laughed once during the whole film, so let me tell you about this scene so I can save you the cash. Alexandra, the girl from the comic with the dark hair and the white streak is asked what she is even doing here and she replies “The only reason I’m here is because I was in the cartoon.” Okay, I laughed, but that’s the only humorous bit in this mess.