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'Josie & the Pussycats': Kiddie Litter

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 11, 2001


    'Josie and the Pussycats' Tara Reid, Rachael Leigh Cook and Rosario Dawson are cool for cats in "Josie." (Universal Pictures)
Quick, somebody call the vet, the fat cats of Hollywood have coughed up a hairball: "Josie and the Pussycats," an insufferable remake of the 1970s TV kiddie cartoon.

If this live-action adaptation of pop-cultural piffle isn't proof of moviedom's creative poverty, nothing is. In a pathetic attempt to dignify the project, the studio hacks have saddled this alley cat with a cause: Exposing the way craven corporations are fobbing off their garbage onto impressionable teens.

Of course MGM and Universal, the companies behind "Josie," eschew these practices. Never mind all those product placements, ha, ha, ha. That's writer-directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont's idea of kid-comprehensible satire. They've cobbled together a scenario in which bands that look a lot like 'N Sync are created by a government-backed cabal of businessmen who then hide subliminal sales pitches in the songs.

In the movie, Josie and her kittenish collaborators are not superstars but a garage band that plays to indifferent audiences in bowling alleys and supermarket shopping lots. Then along comes Wyatt Frame (tiresome Alan Cumming), a smarmy manager who is desperate to replace an increasingly troublesome boy band.

Upon discovering the Pussycats – a bubble-gum punk group composed of plucky guitarist Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), dizzy drummer Melody (Tara Reid) and banal bassist Valerie (Rosario Dawson) – he signs them to a contract and flies them to New York, where they are groomed in a tired, "Oprah"-style makeover montage. In less than a week, the Pussycats are chart-toppers pursued by swarms of gaga fans. But when Josie becomes the most popular of the three, Valerie and Melanie are upset.

The movie's negligible source of suspense: Will the gal pals remain true to themselves and each other, or will the fur fly? But more important, when oh when will the pussyfooting be over?

"Josie and the Pussycats" (98 minutes) is rated PG-13.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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