In Defense of: Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Judge and GavelEvery other week I’m going to defend a movie that did not get that much love,  but really should have.  These are not unheard of classics or lost gems, but I feel that there was something in these films that a lot of people just missed or didn’t much care about. This week I’m looking at the 2001 music comedy. “Josie and The Pussycats

Josie Poster 1Josie and The Pussycats.

Cast: Rachel Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid

Writers and Directors Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont

Based on the Hanna Barbara show of the late 70’s.  “Josie and The Pussycats” follows a trio of rock girls who try their best to build an audience, but fail.  This is because everyone listens to  boy bands instead of rock.  Keep in mind that when this movie opened NSync and Backstreet Boys were a big deal.  The movie opens with a track by a popular boy group known as Dujour.  The video shows all of their fans yelling and talking about how great they are(DuJour means friendship).  This was a parody of the show Total Request Live.  On that show they would play a song, but would then cut to random fans who would yell at the camera about how much they love the band and then give out some stupid shot outs to people we don’t know a thing about.

(Back Door Lover by DuJour.)

DuJour is on their way to a concert when their plane suddenly crashes.(DuJour means Crash Positions). The only known survivor of the crash was the band’s manager Wyatt (Alan Cummings) who now has to find the next big group for the Mega Record label run by Fiona(Parker Posey).  Luckily for Wyatt he ends up running into the girls one night(well, to be fair he almost runs over them with his car) and offers them a contract without even hearing one song.  This was poking fun at the whole Seattle Grunge era or The Los Angles Hair Metal days.  Bands who were barely together are somehow giving a huge contract and tons of money just for sounding like others.  Josie(Rachel Leigh Cook),Val(Rosario Dawson) and Melody(Tara Reid) vow they won’t let success go their head, and will remain friends forever.  The band ends up becoming a huge hit with everyone, but not because of their music.  It’s discovered later that subliminal messages were put into their songs to make people like them.  Also advisers would put in messages to help sell their products to the masses as well. The filmmakers have fun with this element and use it throughout the feature.  The part that made me laugh is when you see a quick message on a billboard that says “Can’t Hardly Wait” was underrated (Harry Elfont and Deborah Elfont directed both movies).

Josie Poster 2The movie does make fun(albeit very lightly) of those who like the style of music that DuJour plays, and maybe that’s why a lot of people did not care for it. As I mentioned before Backstreet Boys, NSync, 98 Degrees and many other boy bands were big in the mainstream during the time of this release.  Rock groups and especially girl ones were not. To this day I still don’t think there is one, but I could recommend a few that should be big.  The movie has fun poking jokes not only at the fans,and the artists but also at consumerism.  Popular songs are used many times to help sell a product.  I bet at one time you heard a song on a commercial and wanted to hear the whole thing.  There was even a compilation CD of songs that were in commercials. This movie does have a few bad subplots involving the girls becoming distant when Josie gets most of the attention, and one involving the military wanting to use subliminal messages to get new recruits .  But the main theme of how marketing can sometimes influence people’s taste in things is very sharp and dare I say it clever.  This would be a good double feature with “Fight Club” in that both films share the same sort of hatred towards mass consumerism.  The songs Josie and her friends made were not that bad and I hate to say kind of catchy for a teen rock band. The lyrics are very bubble gum pop, but it does have a slight edge to them which I enjoyed.  In short it is not a bad pop song.

What do you think about this movie?  Am I right in defending it. Please leave comments below  Thanks for reading.


About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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14 Responses to In Defense of: Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

  1. ninvoid99 says:

    I have mixed feelings about this film. At the time when it came out, I was quite dismissive about it thinking it was fluff. Looking at it now. It’s still a bit of a mess. You have this great satire on the world of teen-pop (which was big at the time and I hated it) as well as some spot-on messages about consumerism. Yet, I don’t think the jokes came off as well where it wanted to celebrate the idea of real music but loses itself in the satire it wanted to present. And for the record, Can’t Hardly Wait fucking sucked. I didn’t like it when it came out as I was a junior/senior in high school and I still don’t like it.

  2. The Vern says:

    I tend to think some of the jokes about consumerism and teen pop worked for me.(Orange is the new pink). I never thought it was trying to celebrate real music. I just thought they were attacking mass marketing for not giving people a choice. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Tara says:

    Most of the attempts at satire kind of missed the mark, but you could see what they were going for. More importantly, the film featured the extremely hot Tara Reid at her extremely hottest.

    • The Vern says:

      Yes, I think this,The Big Lebowski, and American Pie were when Tara Reid looked her best. I wouldn’t kick her out of bed now but Yeah I agree she did look the best then. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Lindsey says:

    I love this movie so so so so so so much (yes, six “so”s). I was nine or ten when it came out, and I loved it then because it was fun. A lot of the jokes went over my head, but my sister and I practically wore out the VHS tape regardless, haha. When I got a little older and continued re-watching it I realized how great of a satire it is. My appreciation for the film has only grown since having that realization, and you are totally right in defending it!

    In regards to the comment before mine, I don’t think the film was aiming to push a message of what “real” music is. The music of Josie and the Pussycats is, after all, still a form of “pop” (pop-rock). The commentary is not being made on the music itself, but on the music PR machine. The film could be adapted now with a Robin Thicke-inspired creature (or whoever is popular now) filling DuJour’s place and its commentary would still stand. It’s about consumerism and manufactured popularity more than anything.

    • The Vern says:

      Thank you Lindsay for your thoughts on this movie. Yeah I agree the message of this movie could still stand today or even before when this movie took place. My friends watched this a lot in our early 20’s. It became a fixture at a lot of parties. Now I want to get the soundtrack again.

  5. Nice write-up. I have never seen this movie and can honestly say that I have never really thought about it at all. After reading your post, I kind of want to see it now.

    I also have to say that I love the “In Defense of…” idea. Very cool. I think a lot about movies I love that others hate, so I might have to steal the idea sometime. Or hey, if you ever need a guest writer, I have a lot of movies I could defend.

    Good work here!

    • The Vern says:

      Wow thanks Jacob. I do look forward to reading your thoughts about it if you do ever see it. As for guest writer. I would love that. I am planing on restarting my Troma Challenge in November if you want to be a part of that. I will have more info later.

  6. That would be great. Let me know!

  7. I’ve always loved this movie. I think it’s fun and clever… and love the music. I like the consumerism commentary. Sometimes it does seem that all it takes is one small thing for a trend to change. OMG. Pink is the new black! It happens. I think they make fun of of things in a fun way. I never saw it as offensive. Every time I see it playing on TV, I have to watch it. Agree with the above comment… Great idea for a blog. Looking forward to more!

    • The Vern says:

      Thanks for the comment. I never see this playing on TV. I would love for this be played on some cable TV network like TBS or FX, but I never do. Glad you like this idea. I plan on having it be a regular thing after a few weeks.

  8. table9mutant says:

    I like this feature. 🙂 From what I remember of it, this film was much better than I’d been expecting. Should re-watch someday.

  9. Pingback: 6th Episode: Josie and The Pussycats(2001) – Screen Trax

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