2001’s Josie and the Pussycats is early aughts carefree cringe in the best way. Filled with glittery makeup, lots of rhinestones, teenybop pop-rock music, formidable low-rise pants, and plenty of montages to hurry the story along, this classic flick will hit a nostalgia nerve for kids and tweens from the era.
Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Valerie (Rosario Dawson), and Melody (Tara Reid) make up the titular pop rock band, struggling to make it big in their small hometown of Riverdale (yes, this is the same Josie and the Pussycats of the Archie comics oeuvre). They miraculously stumble across MegaRecords executive Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) who offers them a record deal without having heard their music–cue the montage of the Pussycats getting their official name change to Josie and the Pussycats, and rising up the billboard charts.
The movie does not attempt to hide the fact that MegaRecords is up to no good, and use the musical acts signed to the label to push their agenda–I feel like there’s a message here…in this case, the agenda is subliminal messaging to impressionable teens to dictate how they act, think, feel, and largely what products they’ll buy. Any singers on the label who start to suspect something quickly meet their demise.
The group is thrust into fame and massive success. Tensions run high for the best friends as the label clearly favors Josie, and Valerie starts asking more questions than they’d like. Of course these sinister undertones of life in the spotlight are toned down with lots of cat ears and catchy pop rock hits created for the movie. It makes for a fun, lighthearted movie with a clichéd message about friendship and staying true to yourself, but hey, it works!
On a final note–if I’m being completely honest, when the most popular song from the movie, “3 Small Words,” started playing, I instinctively started singing along and was shocked that I remembered the words so well. Let’s not kid ourselves, back when this movie came out, I absolutely rocked a pair of cat ears.
Josie and the Pussycats
dir. Harry Elfont & Deborah Kaplan
Screens (on 35mm!) Thursday, 5/26, 7:00pm @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
Free after-party to follow at Parlour!
Part of the ongoing series: Rewind!