Josie and the Pussycats could be a great new reality TV show: CBS makes 16 people watch this movie and one by one the contestants leave the theater because they just can’t take it any more. Any contestant who plugs his ears during one of the Pussycats’ grating original songs would be off the show; so would anyone who yawned during one of the 11 montage sequences in this film. Contestants could also be eliminated for trying to follow the “plot,” attempting to find a connection between these characters and their original Archie Comics counterparts, or laughing out loud. If anyone were left standing after the painfully unamusing bloopers-during-the-credits sequence, they’d win the big cash prize and the right to take a free swing at either one of this film’s two directors.
It would be unfair to criticize the plot of Josie and the Pussycats, because there really isn’t one. Most of the film is told in montage form. About every five minutes, the soundtrack kicks up three notches and we get to watch quick cuts of the girls laughing, singing, laughing, spraying each other with hoses, laughing, and laughing. We counted three montages in the first 10 minutes, 11 by the movie’s end, and two occasions that literally featured montages within montages. Between these mini-music videos are a collection of random scenes that serve no purpose other than to remind us that Rachael Leigh Cook is a horrible, horrible, horrible actress.
Josie and her bandmates quickly get signed to a major-label deal by Alan Cumming, a great actor who has unfortunately been typecast as the eccentric British villain. Cumming wants to put subliminal messages onto the Pussycat’s new CD as part of a government conspiracy to market products to teens. This insane plot device gives the producers free reign to sell product placement throughout this film in record volume. There is hardly a scene in the film that doesn’t have a corporate logo (usually Starbucks, McDonalds or Target… although probably 50 other products get ample screen time, too) hovering over a character’s shoulder.
There is no one who escapes the vacuum of suck in this movie, except Eugene Levy. He appears for exactly one minute during a Public Service Announcement the record company shows its investors on the benefits of subliminal advertising. As a casting choice, Levy is hopelessly out of place… but his hilarious monologue is this film’s only saving grace. Parker Posey whores out her sterling reputation for a useless role as Cumming’s co-conspirator. Tara Reid is not only miraculously unconvincing as a dumb blonde, but can’t even pull off a scene in which she develops a crush on real-life fiance Carson Daly. Watching the two of them try and act together may be one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes ever captured on film… and it will no doubt be used as evidence of emotional distress during their eventual divorce hearing.
Just how bad is Josie and the Pussycats? In one scene, two Chinese businessmen discuss VH-1’s Behind the Music about Leif Garrett… and the subtitles misspell his name. In another scene, one character turns to the useless Alexandra Cabot and correctly asks “I don’t understand. Why are you even here?” She simply replies, “I was in the comic book.” It’s a joke that reminds the viewer how far removed these characters are from their cartoon inspirations. Clearly, Universal simply purchased all the names and likenesses, and slapped them onto this “script.”