Josie and the Pussycats

This played at the $3 theatre in my neighborhood, and, while walking to that theatre, I found two $1 bills on the sidewalk. Thus, the movie wound up only setting me back a dollar, which makes it officially worth it.

Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson star as the titular rock band that was made famous (sort of) by the old Archie comic books. As there would be no reason at all to create a "faithful" adaptation of the forgettable comic, directors Elfont and Kaplan decided to use it as a springboard for a satirical comedy about mass-market culture, now peaking along with countless teeny bopper bands. So in Josie you get lots of over-the-top product placement lurking in the back of every scene, as Josie and her pals discover that their oily British manager and the neurotic woman who runs the record company (Alan Cumming and Parker Posey, both hamming it up to the hilt) are using their recordings to send subliminal messages to youngsters, urging them to buy various products.

Consumerism is an easy target, yet it could always use a healthy skewering, especially in a film aimed at impressionable teens. But Josie's not-unexpected silliness undermines its satirical bite: Tara Reid's dumb blonde shtick is tired, and there are too many self-referential jokes and slapstick gags that just don't work.

In the end, Elfont and Kaplan dull whatever edge they started with, and go for the usual "love conquers all" cop-out. I couldn't help but be disappointed by the wasted potential. Somehow, these filmmakers managed to talk Universal and MGM into coughing up millions of dollars for an anti-corporate comedy, yet their own script is ultimately toothless. It's like Fight Club for teenage girls.