"Josie" is based on the '60s Archie comics about a crime-solving girl band. Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid) and Valerie (Rosario Dawson), a struggling band which shoots to stardom in a week after a music scout discovers them.
But all is not well in bubble-gum world as said scout (Wyatt, played by Alan Cumming) and his boss Fiona (Parker Posey) have ulterior motives in promoting the band -- Wyatt and Fiona insert subliminal messages in the 'Cat's music to drive fashion trends and consumerism.
Wait -- the movie is trying to make a social statement against consumerism and trends, but the whole film is laden with product placements. Corporations compete for movie product placement and "Josie" gives them the perfect opportunity to push their products blatantly. Target, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Revlon all feature prominently in the movie and it feels like an hour-and-a-half-long commercial. You exit the theater feeling a bit used.
As for the band, the lip-syncing is bad -- and try not to cringe as Mel bangs on the drums. Tara Reid is slightly amusing playing the dumb girl, but the real acting is left up to Cumming.
He is dryly humorous as the cell-phone-toting expert in making a band popular overnight and killing it off if they ask too many questions. The other actors are merely mediocre -- the film ultimately needs a stronger front woman than Rachael Leigh Cook to propel it.
The writers and directors of the film, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, are not witty or talented enough to make this movie work the way it should.
One of the underused assets of the film is the N*SYNC spoof band, DuJour. They can't dance, they can't sing and they have a pet monkey. It's funny, but they sadly exit after the first five minutes of the movie.
The film fails to recognize its strengths, and always manages to emphasize its weaknesses. It is obvious that the film is trying hard to be all it could be, but its efforts fall short.
It is not as bad as you think it might be, but at the same time it doesn't redeem itself in any way.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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