Josie and the Pussycats

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2 out of 10

Is Tara Reid always this annoying? Are fun, classic teen comedies gone for good? Will the world long remember this attempt to cash in on a nearly-forgotten Archie comic? To all three questions: I hope not. Rating: 2 out of 10.

Yes, I am a sucker for teeny-bopper films, and some would say I've rated a few of them generously before. But even I can't fail to see the genre dying. Perhaps the reason for this is the trend away from corny/touching stories and toward bodily secretions. Long gone are the days of Say Anything and The Breakfast Club. Teen comedies have lost their heart and soul. Many viewers have gotten so disgusted with the genre that they skip it altogether, which is probably why most teen-targeted comedies have been tanking at the box office. Josie is one such box-office bomb; it didn't make back the $22 million it cost to make it in theaters. Perhaps it will close the gap in video and DVD sales/rentals, but if my words here can prevent anyone from wasting their money, I will have done a good thing.

The movie stinks! Let me tell you why.

1. The jokes aren't funny. My wife and I both enjoy corny movies, and usually at least one of us will chuckle every few minutes. With this one, there seemed to be about a half hour between chuckles. The closing credit goofs seemed funnier, but I'm convinced that was only a function of having just suffered through the movie.

2. The premise is wasted. A send-off on boy bands could have been hilarious, as could the whole anti-materialism thing. But the weak script, annoying performances, and lack of humor sabotage the whole mess.

3. If this includes any of your favorite actors, consider it the low point in their career. I have liked Rachel Leigh Cook in other things, including She's All That, a teen comedy with many annoying aspects that still managed to capture enough magic to send me at the end. Here, though, she seems uncomfortable in the movie. It seems to be written all over her face that it's time to move on to something serious. As for Tara Reid, her turn as a ditzy blonde was so annoying that I wonder if she has much of a career ahead of her. I don't remember her being that way in American Pie, which had a split personality as the ultimate gross-fest juxtaposed with a surprisingly sweet, traditional teen romance flick. So I must assume she's acting here, but it doesn't come off as cute. It's just plain hard to watch. Rosario Dawson is okay; she hasn't had that many roles in big films yet, but is in the upcoming Men In Black sequel. If she goes on to big things, I'm sure everyone will forget she was in this. Alan Cumming and Parker Posey, both usually searing, intelligent comic actors, must have done this for the paycheck. They ham it up for all they're worth, but the material gives them no chance for redemption.

4. The music didn't do much for me. This draws comparison to yet another teen comedy: a much higher quality of the same general type of music was found in 10 Things I Hate About You. The music in Josie wasn't terrible, but far from good enough to either carry the movie or make me want the soundtrack.

5. The weak 'romance,' if one can deem it such, between Josie and her yokel boyfriend (Gabriel Mann), who for some reason is named Allen M (not Allen, but Allen M...evidently I missed the significance of that) gets very little screen time and feels completely devoid of heart and soul.

6. The whole movie seems devoid of everything meaningful. The attempts to cash in on the Tara Reid/Carson Daly romance fall flat. The whole thing feels like it was trumped up to try and haul in cash (exactly the sort of thing the plot was supposed to be condemning). The comic book references, including one character actually saying she's in the movie because she was in the comic book...well, how many ways are there to say it? They go over like the proverbial lead blimp.

On the positive side, you will recover quickly. My wife and I didn't even start to watch the DVD bonus materials in this one, let alone finish them, which is a first for us. And now, almost a day and half after watching the movie, I can tell that in a month I won't remember much at all but how much of a waste of time I felt it was. Hopefully this vain attempt to turn one of my childhood cartoons into a modern cash cow will fade as fast from the collective memory of American pop culture--and the resumes of all involved.

Note: the co-directors, Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, wrote and directed Can't Hardly Wait together, so there's no reason to think they can't be at least moderately successful again in the future. Perhaps they should write their next script, though, lest they end up with one as putrid as this.

Year: 2001
Directors: Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Running time: 98 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sensuality and language.

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Review copyright 2003 by Toby Baldwin

Originally written August 16, 2001

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