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Josie and the Pussycats

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harry Elfont
Deborah Kaplan
Produced by Marc E. Platt
Written by Richard Goldwater
Dan DeCarlo
John L. Goldwater
Harry Elfont
Deborah Kaplan
Starring Rachael Leigh Cook
Tara Reid
Rosario Dawson
Alan Cumming
Parker Posey
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Editing by Peter Teschner
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures
Release date(s) April 11, 2001
Running time 99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22,000,000
Gross revenue $14,866,015[1]

Josie and the Pussycats is a 2001 comedy film released by Universal Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. It was directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan. The film is loosely based upon the Archie comic of the same name.



Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) is a record executive working for record label MegaRecords. The label, headed by the trendy and scheming Fiona (Parker Posey), pumps out pop bands and, through an arrangement with the United States government, get teens to buy their records and follow "a new trend every week" by putting subliminal messages under the music. The Government's motive in the scheme is to help build a robust economy from the "wads of cash" teenagers earn from babysitting and minimum wage jobs. When a member of Wyatt's wildly successful boy band, Du Jour, uncovers one such subliminal message and asks Wyatt about it aboard their private jet, Wyatt parachutes out with the pilot, leaving the plane to crash and apparently killing Du Jour.

Wyatt lands just outside the town of Riverdale, and meets Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid), and Valerie (Rosario Dawson), the financially struggling The Pussycats. He offers them a lucrative record deal and flies them off to New York City where they are renamed Josie and the Pussycats. All goes well, with instant popularity for the band until Valerie gets frustrated that the focus of the band is not on them as a whole, but rather Josie. Melody, too simple to notice the attention Josie receives, uses her uncanny behavioral perception and becomes suspicious of Fiona and Wyatt.

Because of these suspicions, an attempt is made to kill Valerie and Melody when they supposedly make an appearance without Josie on the MTV show Total Request Live which is actually staged on a fake set with only cutout people for an audience and a fake Carson Daly. Alan M. wanted Josie to come to his gig at a bar, but Wyatt manages to convince her it was cancelled. Instead, Josie is brainwashed by subliminal messages in a new demo CD to try to push her into a solo career. Valerie and Melody survive the attempt on their lives and return to their hotel to discover Josie intent on a solo career. After a fight with her band mates, Josie realizes that the music influenced the fight, and she goes to the studio to investigate the CD that she was given. Her suspicions are confirmed at the studio, but she is caught by Fiona.

MegaRecords have organized a giant pay-per-view concert, whereby they plan to unleash their biggest subliminal message scheme yet. They try to force Josie to perform on stage by threatening to kill Melody and Valerie. The badly injured members of Du Jour, who were thought to be dead, appear just in time to help the Pussycats. In the resulting fight scene, Josie manages to destroy the machine used to make the subliminal messages. The message is revealed to be one that will make Fiona popular. Her poor self-esteem began in high school where she talked with a lisp. Wyatt reveals that his appearance is a disguise - that he went to the same high school as Fiona, but was known as the albino kid, "White-Ass Wally". The two fall instantly in love, and are arrested by the government for crimes against the youth of America. The MegaRecords subliminal message program had been scrapped because the government decided to use movies instead (breaking the fourth wall with their own subliminal message.)

Josie, Valerie, and Melody go on to perform the concert, and for the first time, the audience is able to judge the band on its merits, rather than be subliminally persuaded to like the band. Alan, still upset with Josie for missing his gig, comes to the concert and tells Josie he loves her, and she returns the feelings.The audience roars their approval as the film comes to a close.


  • Rachael Leigh Cook as Josie McCoy, the red-headed co-founder lead vocalist, guitarist, and band leader.
  • Tara Reid as Melody Valentine, an absent-minded blonde girl who co-founded and drums for the Pussycats
  • Rosario Dawson as Valerie Brown, the Pussycats' headstrong songwriter, bassist and backup vocalist
  • Alan Cumming as Wyatt Frame, a conman who is Du Jour's manager and attempts to cause their ultimate demise
  • Parker Posey as Fiona, the MegaRecords CEO who orders Wyatt to put subliminal messages in Du Jour's songs
  • Gabriel Mann as Alan M., Josie's boyfriend and the band's roadie
  • Paulo Costanzo as Alexander Cabot, the band's rich, temperamental, and snobbish manager
  • Missi Pyle as Alexandra Cabot, Alexander's talentless and demanding twin sister who is chasing Josie's love interest, Alan M.
  • Tom Butler as Agent Kelly
  • Alexander Martin as Les (Du Jour band member)
  • Donald Faison as DJ (Du Jour band member)
  • Seth Green as Travis (Du Jour band member)
  • Breckin Meyer as Marco (Du Jour band member)

Cameo appearances


In line with its theme of subliminal advertising, the inordinate degree of product placement in the movie constitutes a running joke. Almost every scene features a mention or appearance of one or more famous brands, including the likes of Dreamcast, Motorola, Starbucks, McDonald's, Sega, Gatorade, Snapple, Evian, Target, Aquafina, America Online, Pizza Hut, Cartoon Network (which has aired the cartoon series on many occasions), Revlon, Kodak, Puma, Advil, Bounce and more. None of the advertising was paid promotion by the represented brands; it was inserted voluntarily by the filmmakers.[2]


The film grossed $14,300,000 at the U.S. box office; however, its budget was an estimated $22,000,000, resulting in a domestic box office loss. Film Critic Roger Ebert gave the film one-half of a star out of a possible four, commenting that "Josie and the Pussycats are not dumber than the Spice Girls, but they're as dumb as the Spice Girls, which is dumb enough."[3]

Reevaluating the film for the Onion A.V. Club in 2009, Nathan Rabin writes that it is "funny, sly and sweet' and "a sly, sustained spoof of consumerism". His rating of the film as a "secret success" and the user comments in the article suggest that it has gained a cult following. [4] The film currently holds a 53% "Rotten" rating at, based on an average of 114 reviews.[5]



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