More WAYNE'S WORLD than SPICE WORLD, this live-action adaptation of cartoonist Dan DeCarlo's Archie Comics characters is that rare film aimed at teenage girls that's still enjoyable for grownup viewers. Baby boomers nostalgic for the girl band in leopard-print tights, "long tails and ears for hats" (to quote the early '70s TV-toon theme) will find a clever consumerist satire that includes well-earned laughs, some fourth-wall winks and a star-making performance by Tara Reid. Evil band manager Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) disposes of fractious boy band DuJour (Seth Green, Donald Faison, Alexander Martin and Breckin Meyer) when they start asking about a strange background sound on their latest single. Turns out there's a conspiracy afoot worthy of The X-Files: For years a shadow-government group led by fashionista and Mega Records chief Fiona (Parker Posey) has been creating every teen following, fad and catch phrase through subliminal messages buried in pop music. (Eugene Levy, playing himself, explains the economic reasons in a short promotional film for the multinational diplomatic representatives gathered in Fiona's underground headquarters.) Frame and Fiona's newest band du jour is Josie and the Pussycats, an all-girl, Riverdale, USA, trio featuring Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Reid) and Valerie (Rosario Dawson). Why the movie moves the girls from their comic-book hometown of Midvale to Riverdale without offering cameos by famed Riverdalers Archie, Jughead, et al. isn't clear, but it's the only unclear thing about this song-infused, rags-to-riches ride where the satire is spelled out in neon often literally and where hilariously exaggerated product placements appear everywhere, even inside a Beluga-whale tank (for Evian water, natch). The bubblegum-BLADE RUNNER set does become claustrophobic (and the satire is smarmy if the endorsements really were paid for), but the filmmakers' points remain blisteringly valid and anything that gets us questioning our sheep-like consumer habits while making us laugh is laudable. Bets bits: Carson Daly as an MTV assassin, the secret behind Behind the Music and a brilliant Reid, who, as the child-like Melody, even nails exactly how to hold a pair of drumsticks.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: More WAYNE'S WORLD than SPICE WORLD, this live-action adaptation of cartoonist Dan DeCarlo's Archie Comics characters is that rare film aimed at teenage girls that's still enjoyable for grownup viewers. Baby boomers nostalgic for the girl band in leopard-p… (more)