Shrewdly concocted by codirectors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, Josie and the Pussycats
is a wildly comedic update of the Archie comic book (and early 1970s cartoon show). "Oh my God, I'm a trend pimp!" cries rocker Josie McCoy (Rachel Leigh Cook) when she discovers that she and her best friends Melody (Tara Reid) and Val (Rosario Dawson)--collectively known as the Pussycats--have been recruited in a plot to brainwash America's youth into a frenzy of mindless consumerism. Unbeknown to the Pussycats, subliminal messages in their chart-topping hit "Pretend to Be Nice" are forcing kids to follow the latest prefab trends as if their lives depended on it. Josie's going to be the "Next Big Thing", and to her manager (Alan Cumming) and Megarecords mogul Fiona (Parker Posey), the other Pussycats are expendable baggage in their scheme to dictate the cool quotient of teenagers everywhere. Blatant product placements dominate virtually every colourful scene as Josie and the Pussycats
gamely embraces the cultural blight it claims to criticise, but this isn't Hollywood hypocrisy. In this deliriously entertaining assault on pop-cultural flotsam, with its disposable boy-band (aptly named "Du Jour") and cross-product marketing ploys that perpetuate blind conformity among gullible teens, Elfont and Kaplan wilfully bite the hand that feeds them, and they're having loads of fun while advocating independent opinion. Cook and her pals are more honestly sexy than Britney Spears, and they make genuinely catchy music (although Cook's vocals were dubbed). It's pure fluff, but Josie and the Pussycats
was conceived in such high spirits that it's hard to imagine how it could be improved. Even the obligatory end-credit outtakes are utterly irresistible. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
On the DVD: Some nicely designed and colourful menus lead you to the extras. The obligatory "Behind the Scenes" is a lot more than just an extended promo with footage of the Pussycats learning their instruments and playing them live on stage. Strangely enough though, there's not one mention throughout of the characters' comic book and cartoon origins. There are a few pointless deleted scenes and the usual production notes plus the video for Josie and the Pussycats' single "Three Small Words" (good enough to play on MTV!) and two hilarious music videos from the movie's fictitious boy band DuJour. --Jon Weir
When boy-band Dujour meet their untimely ends in a tragic plane crash, their manager Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) is quick to sign-up some replacements in the form of girl-group Josie and the Pussycats. Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook) and her bandmates Melody (Tara Reid) and Valerie (Rosario Dawson) are happy to have found their big break, and head off to the big city where they quickly become teen-pop sensations. But when they discover that Wyatt and his record company cohorts are using their records to send out subliminal messages to the nation's teenagers, the feline popsters decide it's time to fight back.