Josie & the Pussycats

Friday, January 18, 2002

I should probably start off, in the spirit of full disclosure, that my overall outlook on the world has been overly influenced by Archie Comics. It wasn't until fairly recently that I realized that variations on the "Chinese Food is great, but I'm always hungry a half-hour later" observeration are not considered humorous by the world at large. Nor do others seem to notice if I insert a dimly-remembered line from an old Archie comic into daily conversation. For much of my life, my standard response to "Tell me something I don't know!" was "Boiled rudabegas cure bunions," which always produced confused looks, but never once did anyone say, "Hey! I remember that issue of Josie and the Pussycats! I remember when Melody said that to Pepper!"

Clearly, I don't hang out with the right sort of people.

Anyway, that brings me to the recent movie adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats. I am clearly the sort of person who will take umbrage with the fact that Pepper is not in the film. Nor is Alexandra a witch. Nor does she have a cat with matching hairdo. Nor is Alan M. a stud. Nor is Alexander a sleazy, Reggie-esque cad. These are the sorts of comic-to-movie translations that tend to drive fanboys like me up the wall (Are there Archie Comics fanboys? I mean, ones who can drive and don't live with their parents?)

Obviously, I went into this film expecting to be worked up into a righteous fervor. I was hoping to storm out screaming, "How dare they put Carson Daly into a Josie movie?" Truth be told, I only managed to maintain this attitude about five minutes into the film. Maybe it was the fact that I had just sat through Joe Dirt and a swift kick to the teeth would have seemed like a pleasant treat. Maybe it was the Kay Hanley songs, which, short of letting Lisa Mar sing Sean Tollefson songs, was about the best we could hope for as far as musical backing goes. Maybe it was Rachael Leigh Cook (Admitting that I actually like Rachael Leigh Cook is equivalent, in my mind, to driving around town in a recently purchased Pontiac Aztek -- a public admission that the entertainment monoliths can shove anything down my throat and I will not only buy it, but scream for more.)

Whatever the reason, I found myself really enjoying the film. Rachael Leigh Cook is very nice to watch (Although she has developed some bizarre tics. I'm not sure if this is her idea of "acting" or if she's tweaking on speed.) Tara Reid was much better than expected, though, at this point, I think the engagement to Carson Daly weighs much more heavily in my mind than any of her performances. The biggest treats are, not surprisingly, Alan Cumming and Parker Posey, both of whom have superb track records of brightening up every film they are in (granted, there wasn't much they could do for Spice World and You've Got Mail, respectively, but just imagine how those would have been without them)

The film does drag a bit in spots, mostly due to three characters the screenwriters apparently felt obliged to bring over from the comics (Alan M - Josie's boyfriend, Alexander - The Pussycats' manager, and Alexandra, Alex's sister and Josie's rival for Alan's affections) They really serve very little purpose. Alan should have been built up a little more as a love interest (and recast, incidentally -- scrawny James Spader lookalikes are not believable as the hottest boy in Riverdale) Alex and Alexandra could easily have been merged with the evil manager and record label mogul (Cumming and Posey) making the film just a little tighter. Still and all, not a bad adaptation. Would recommend to a friend without fear of retaliation.

Rating: B

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