I agonized over which trailer to choose this week because there are just that many movies that I feel could use a little love. But in my heart of hearts doodled in my little notebook, I was always going to pick Josie and the Pussycats. It fits the bill because when I tell people I love this movie, they're like, "Really? Josie and the Pussycats?" and this is usually followed by, "I've never seen it." These maroons haven't seen it because they assumed that it would be just another dumb nostalgia wank, one of those films that exploits something we vaguely remember from our childhood in an effort to make big bucks. Josie and the Pussycats is not one of those movies.
It's incredibly clever with a script so witty that even now when I revisit it, I'm still finding little jokes I never noticed before -- this only happens with the best movies, and you know it. You know why there are new things you're able to discover in hilarious movies even after you've seen them a dozen times? Because you were laughing so hard that you didn't hear them the first time.
Josie and the Pussycats isn't the kind of movie you think it is -- it's satirizing that kind of movie, and the humor is a lovely blend of dry and silly, which are my second and third favorite kinds of humor after the sort of puns that make your grandpa cringe so hard that he folds in on himself like origami.
Plus, this cast: Rachael Leigh Cook, queen of my teenage heart; Tara Reid, actually being hilarious (believe it, I would not lie to you); Rosario Dawson, being a rowdy little badass; Alan Cumming, being Alan Cumming; and Parker Fucking Posey. Parker Posey is really all you need as a selling point for anything. She could spit her gum into my hand and tell me it's a small planet that holds the key to saving Earth, and I'd protect that gum with my life and become a Howard Hughes-level recluse, cowering in a closet and cupping that gum, all covered in lint and cat hair and growing mold, shivering and surrounded by my pee jars.
So yes, Parker Posey. Josie and the Pussycats also has one of the best fake bands in the history of film (oh no I just lost the respect of my elders) -- Du Jour, a boy band made up of the leftovers from your favorite teen comedies: Breckin Meyer, Seth Green and Donald Faison.
Which brings me to the music of this film. Du Jour's "Backdoor Lover" is hilarious for obvious reasons, but Josie's actual music is fantastic. "3 Small Words" still gets stuck in my head constantly, and "Pretend to Be Nice" is a great song for when you're mad at a boy. You may be an adult, but you still get mad at boys, like the eight-year-olds who kick the back of your seat at the movie theater. Little heartbreakers in training is what they are.
Rachael Leigh Cook did not actually sing all of the songs in the movie, but the good news is that this is a reason for you to watch the movie: her singing voice was provided by Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo (Ben Wyatt's favorite band). Fans of teen comedies probably also remember Letters to Cleo from their awesome appearance in 10 Things I Hate About You (oops, my subscription to Seventeen is showing).
Most importantly, Josie and the Pussycats is just a damn fine movie, which smartly satirizes consumerist culture as Josie and her pals get unwittingly roped into brainwashing teenagers into buying name brand products and following dumb new trends using subliminal messages hidden in Josie's songs. Rather than use the film to cash in on a brand, co-writers and directors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont take the opportunity to flip the script with a very self-aware film that bucks nostalgia-wank conventions. And it's not an empty movie at all: it's a film about friendship and having integrity, about being committed to your art above all else and resisting our stupid consumerist culture where magazines and corporations tell us what to think, how to dress and what to eat. It's about being your weirdo self, even if your weirdo self is kind of dumb, like Tara Reid.