Writers: Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Directors: Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Original Release Date: Sunday, April 11, 2001
Length: 98:26 (PG-13), 98:09 (PG)
I’ve been meaning to review this movie for a long time. With the 20th anniversary of the movie here, I decided now was the puuurfect time (sorry, not sorry). In the interest of length, this post will cover the movie only. I already reviewed the soundtrack album. A later post will cover the impact that the movie had upon release and in the decades since. A still later post will review the official novelization of the film.
A coproduction between Universal Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Marc Platt Productions, and Riverdale Productions, Josie and the Pussycats, based on the comic book and cartoon series of the same name, was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 2000 and early 2001.
Then-current “it girl” Rachael Leigh Cook, star of films such as She’s All That and Antitrust (as well as the replacement voice of Chelsea Cunningham on Batman Beyond) was cast in the lead role of lead vocalist / guitarist Josephine “Josie” McCoy. Per Wikipedia, AV Club, and Collider, Cook later expressed surprise at her casting: “somehow, they gave one of the title roles to me, and I cannot sing at all. I don’t play guitar. I have no idea.” Cook said the producers considered her for the titular lead in Josie having remembered Cook from her audition for the lead role in Can’t Hardly Wait (both films were co-written and directed by Kaplan and Elfont).
Tara Reid of American Pie fame was cast as ditzy drummer Melody Valentine.
For the role of bassist Valerie Brown, Beyoncé, Aaliyah, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes auditioned, but the role ultimately went to Rosario Dawson.
The girls were put through “band camp” for two weeks, so they could learn to convincingly play their instruments on screen. Cook didn’t sing Josie’s lead vocals (those were provided by Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo), but she and the other girls were brought into the recording studio and sang the backing vocals of the Pussycats.
As the movie begins, the music kicks in during the logos. This movie can’t wait for its own video footage to start rocking out!
In a clever twist, the MGM lion morphs into a screaming fan.
All of these fans are gathered at an airport to see:
DuJour, the hottest boy band around!
DuJour’s band members are:
Les Frame (possibly related to Wyatt), played by Alexander Martin
DJ Parker, played by Donald Faison
Travis McCoy (probably no relation to Josie), played by Seth Green
Marco Brown (probably no relation to Valerie), played by Brecklin Meyer
Song: “Backdoor Lover” by DuJour
The band starts performing their hit song, “Backdoor Lover”, their tribute to anal sex.
The crowd goes wild and starts singing along. I bet all of the girls in the crowd (and some of the guys) are hoping a member of DuJour will be their backdoor lover.
Jann Carl covers the event for Entertainment Tonight and interviews the band.
Apparently, they became the #1 band in the world (and have the #1 song) within one year.
After a short fluff interview, the band sings the Entertainment Tonight theme.
The crowd really loves this band.
The band and their manager, Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming), then board their plane.
Once they’re en route, Wyatt informs them that they’ll land in Riverdale in a half-hour. They’re booked on the Riverdale, Rise and Shine show, and then they’ve got an in-store gig at 8:00 AM.
Wyatt has to put up with complaints and fighting from the band regarding stupid shit like a limited-edition Coke can, Marco’s pet monkey (Dr. Zaius), and Travis accusing Marco of stealing his “face”.
Oh, you might have noticed a very large amount of product placement in this film. That was deliberate on the part of the filmmakers. It’s part of the movie’s overall satire of our consumerist culture.
The band gets into a bit of a fight. Oh, a common phrase among them is “DuJour means…[insert whatever they’re trying to achieve].”
Les brings something to Wyatt’s attention. The band was working on some remixes of the last single, and they heard a really strange background track and were wondering if he knew what it was all about.
Wyatt says he doesn’t know. The band wants answers. He says he’ll get them and excuses himself for the moment. He leaves and closes the door.
In the cockpit, Wyatt tells the pilot (co-writer/co-director Harry Elfont in a cameo), “Take the Chevy to the levy.“
They bail out.
Travis casually notices it. Marco starts doing his face again, so another fight ensues.
The plane starts falling.
The pilot and Wyatt land safely.
Wyatt gets on his phone and informs someone that they need to find a new band.
Song: “3 Small Words” by Josie and the Pussycats
The movie then transitions to its opening theme song, where we get our first look at our heroes. The fast-moving montage serves as a very convenient way to get up to speed on these characters and their situation in life. I don’t really have anything to say about this. Just enjoy the pictures.
As the song ends, we are treated to one of the greatest reveals in cinematic history: the Pussycats are playing at a bowling alley.
Unrealistically, no one at Riverdale Pin Palace gives a shit about their motherfucking kickass rock song. The business needs the lane and the shoes back, so the girls have to leave.
They get paid $20 – minus $5 shoe rental (each).
Outside, as they load their gear into their van, Josie is way too positive, calling this their “best show yet”.
The local mean girls show up (listening to “Backdoor Lover”), and the leader talks shit about our girls.
Not missing a beat, Josie talks shit about them.
The girl in the back talks shit about their “stupid bunny ears”.
Melody corrects them: they’re “special” “leopard” ears.
She also says they’re special.
The leader calls them “special ed”.
The leader tells Josie to enjoy the gutters, because she’ll be playing there forever.
The mean girls then drive off, leaving the band upset.
Valerie tries to cheer Josie up, asking her “Who’s a rock star?” Josie replies “I am.”
Riverdale looks like a nice, upscale town.
So of course the Pussycats live in a shitty house by a dirt road.
Song: “Come On” by Josie and the Pussycats
Josie plays guitar while looking at herself in the mirror. I assume she’s playing the same song that’s currently heard in the film.
Alan M (Gabriel Mann) stops by and is amused. He calls out to her. We learn Josie’s last name is McCoy – an invention for this movie; in the comics, Josie’s last name alternated between Jones and James.
Josie is startled and knocks over a tower of her CDs. The music abruptly cuts off (complete with record scratch).
“What the fuck, dude?”
Josie seems a bit embarrassed to be caught doing this but then asks what’s going on. He informs her that his truck died.
While Josie works on his truck, Alan plays his guitar and sings an impromptu song, asking her how he fucked up the truck. He tells her to jump in any time.
She informs him that he abused the accelerator.
She reminds him that she’d told him that he can’t drive it uphill when it’s hot outside. She’s genuinely upset and says he doesn’t deserve a truck this good, because he totally takes it for granted.
He seems upset but then starts singing about it.
She can’t stay mad at him.
There’s this moment of romantic tension when Alan wants to tell Josie something (he plays it off like a hypothetical situation), and she thinks it’s about his feelings for her (she advises him to “always tell”), but it’s actually about a really stinky guy at work.
Josie laughs at herself for jumping to the wrong conclusion.
She seemingly fixes his truck and does a half-assed celebratory…thing.
Song: “I Wish You Well” by Josie and the Pussycats
Later, the girls are sharing a pack of ramen. That’s a smart idea, considering their lack of income.
The Cabot Twins, Alexander (Paulo Costanzo) and Alexandra (Missi Pyle) arrive bearing donuts, much to Melody’s delight (Valerie’s happy, too).
Josie lets Alex know this doesn’t make up for him missing their gig.
Alexandra talks shit about the girls and her brother. Alex talks shit about his sister.
Josie’s like “You fuckin’ weirdos.”
Alex asks them how their set went. Josie calls him out (again) on missing it.
An offhand comment by Alex about not being everywhere at once sets Melody to running around the house in a demonstration of what it would be like to be able to do that.
Valerie calls Alex out on not having any other clients, but he claims he’s “on the streets, spreading the Gospel of the Pussycats”.
Alexandra mentions he waited in line for DuJour tickets.
Josie and Valerie are pissed at Alex, but he claims it’s “for business”, since he’s “checking out the competition”.
Melody’s still at it. Notably, she exclaims “And I can go in the closet!”
Alex fakes a phone call from someone supposedly wanting a demo tape of the Pussycats. Josie calls him out on it. He leaves. Alexandra needlessly points out that he’s lying. Josie points out that her fly is open. Alexandra zips up while saying Josie sucks and then leaves. Melody calls them into the living room.
On MTV News, Serena Altschul reports on DuJour’s disappearance forty miles east of Riverdale (it seemed a lot closer than that). Instead of a statement, DuJour’s label, MegaRecords, has released a limited-edition commemorative box set – complete with a CD-ROM history of DuJour – in stores tomorrow.
Melody is sad but remains hopeful.
She decides they’ll raise money for a search party and hold a bake sale. She runs off to make it happen, but I guess it doesn’t, because it’s never mentioned again.
Josie is sad.
Valerie says “But at least they had a record deal.”
This motivates Josie to get off her ass (literally) and try to kickstart the Pussycats’ career in the hope of getting a record deal.
Valerie admires her
girlfriend’s friend’s determination but tries to give her a dose of reality.
Josie is undeterred and gets Valerie and Melody on board. She tells Valerie to pack up her bass and has them follow her.
Song: “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Josie and the Pussycats
We then get a montage of random people shopping and eating in Downtown Riverdale. Plenty of product placement.
Three girls have ditched their red shoes for pink shoes. One of them declares “Pink is the new red.”
Wyatt comes into the local MegaRecords store (yeah, they have their own store) and has the DJ play the suspiciously-titled new single from DuJour, recorded just a few days ago, in order to “test the reaction”. He also crosses himself left-handed.
Song: “DuJour Around the World” by DuJour
For some reason, even though this song is playing overhead, some girls go up to MegaRecords listening stations to listen to it.
The girls from earlier want to buy the single – and orange shoes. The girl that earlier declared “Pink is the new red” now declares “Orange is the new pink”.
Elsewhere, two guys wanna buy other stuff.
Wyatt is pleased with the response.
However, he meets a girl that hates bullshit music like that.
Wyatt sends out the code phrase “Smells like teen spirit” and takes the “nonconformist” downstairs and into an unmarked van, which speeds off.
Wyatt gets a call from his upset, impatient boss (Parker Posey), who we don’t see all of yet for whatever reason. He swears he’ll have a new band for her first thing in the morning.
While some workers remove a sign from a DuJour display, the Pussycats want to play unplugged outside on the sidewalk.
A guy selling new, orange things stops them before they can start, claiming they’ll somehow dissuade people from shopping.
Valerie’s like “Free country, motherfucker.”
The guy says he’s gonna call the cops.
Wyatt drives along, complaining about his boss.
Josie doesn’t think the guy’s really gonna call the cops, but…
They run and cross the street, right in front of Wyatt’s car, and he just barely manages to come to a stop before hitting them.
The stars align, and Wyatt finds a new band.
They go to Starbucks. Wyatt gets the name of their band wrong.
He wants them to sign with MegaRecords.
Josie is surprised.
Alex interrupts and tells them not to sign anything. Wyatt says, as their manager, he’ll be entitled to 15% of everything that they make.
Alexandra flirts with Wyatt. He calls her out on her bad breath.
Josie points out that Wyatt has never even heard them play.
Wyatt pretends he thinks they’re not interested and starts to get up to leave, but they make him stay.
Josie’s still in disbelief.
There’s some odd humor regarding the Beastie Boys.
Josie excuses herself to go to the bathroom and gets Valerie to come as well. This is obviously so they can have a private meeting, but poor, stupid Melody doesn’t get it (she went before they left and preaches doing so), so she has to be dragged along.
So the Pussycats, Alexandra, and Alex crowd into the restroom for a meeting. Valerie pretends she needs a tampon, and that gets rid of Alex.
After discussion of Wyatt (including his choice of coffee) and the suddenness of the offer, the girls reach a decision:
Alexandra is happy that she’ll have Alan M. all to herself.
So of course Josie brings Alan along. Alan’s excited, but Josie tells him to shut the fuck up, because he’s officially her “guitar tech”.
Of course, Alexandra came along as well. I wonder what her excuse is. Even Alex wonders why she’s here, and she breaks the fourth wall by saying “I’m here, because I was in the comic book.”
Josie goes and sits in Valerie’s lap, and Val is surprised but also quite happy with “big butt” sitting there. Just saying.
Anyway, the girls love their first taste of their new life. Valerie loves the private plane. Josie loves the record deal.
Melody loves the coasters. I love Mel; it takes so little to make her happy.
Wyatt’s on a phone call, but Alan’s guitar playing and singing distracts him, so he shuts that shit down.
Valerie finds her Riverdale Transit Authority bus pass in her wallet and considers tossing it (they posed for a group photo for their passes, and there’s debate over who jumped in on whose photo). It’s dumb that it doesn’t indicate which state that Riverdale is in, but it’s basically an Archie tradition. Anyway, looking closely at the bus pass, the ZIP code seems to be either 46520 or 46529, neither of which are valid, but they fall within the range used in Indiana. That’s…different.
Anyway, Valerie then changes her mind and says they should keep their bus passes to remind them where they came from.
Song: “Spin Around” by Josie and the Pussycats
At Josie’s suggestion, they promise each other, no matter what happens, they will always be friends first and a band second. They swear on their bus passes.
This pleases Wyatt, who goes to the cockpit. The pilot (Lex) is ready to bail, but Wyatt assures him that they won’t have any trouble with these girls.
Song: “You’re a Star” by Josie and the Pussycats
When they arrive in New York City, Wyatt takes them to John Frieda to (somewhat forcibly) get a makeover.
They eventually get into it.
Once they leave the salon, Josie sees something and is like “Holy shit.”
Josie questions Wyatt’s decision to put this up already, considering they’ve done jack shit.
She’s worried that they’re gonna flop.
Wyatt’s brutally honest about replacing them, which surprises them, but then he laughs it off. He motions for them to get in the limo. Josie gets in, but Valerie points out that they’re just the Pussycats. Wyatt says Josie is the singer, and the public needs someone out front to identify with. He brings up some supposed stats to back this up, but Valerie brings up the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Backstreet Boys. Wyatt pretty much breaks the fourth wall when defending the name change, basically referencing the comic book, cartoon series, and movie. Melody comes to like the name change and gets in the limo. Valerie stays behind for a moment and tries reciting the name, and then they nearly leave without her. Wyatt claims he didn’t notice. Melody’s excited that there are more coasters in the limo.
As they drive off, a mysterious figure looks on.
Later, Wyatt is talking to his boss, Fiona, on the phone while getting fitted for a suit. He tries to describe the band to her, and, yeah, he’s definitely racist. This might be a reference to what almost happened to Valerie on the cartoon series. Not sure.
Fiona has had enough. She tells Wyatt to put them in the studio tomorrow. She ends the call, because “the feds are here with some foreigners”, and she has to give them the tour.
We finally see Fiona’s face as she greets the arrivals. Not sure why it took them so long to show it.
Among the federal agents present is Agent Kelly (Tom Butler).
With the feds present, Fiona naturally starts the tour by wiping a bunch of cocaine off a panel and typing in a secret code.
The entire office descends to a lower level of the building.
Fiona takes them into the command center, where an army of workers determine trends and popularity – everything from movies to fashion to slang (the new word for cool is “jerkin'”) – among teens.
After praising “the Chinese guy” for understanding what’s going on, Fiona has them watch “a short educational film” that explains how they influence the teens.
The film, narrated by Eugene Levy, spills the secret: subliminal messages in rock music. The government is in on it, of course. This is all about the money: getting kids to spend the “wads of cash” that they have from babysitting and minimum-wage jobs on stuff that they normally wouldn’t want in order to boost the economy. I find this hard to believe. It’s probably solely to boost political donors’ personal wealth.
“God bless the United States of America, the most ass-kickin’ country in the world!”
The video ends with two frames of the words “Tail Pop” with a circle around it. I have no idea what this is, and, hilariously, I can’t get a screencap of it, because the screen in the film ends up completely black in every screencap of this that I try to take.
A foreigner asks what if the rock bands find out about the hidden messages in their music. Fiona responds with plane crashes and drug overdoses (specifically Elvis Presley). Also, it’s the reason that the Spice Girls fell apart. They also use bankruptcy, shocking scandals, and religious conversions (among other things). Behind the Music was created to explain what happens to these people. Everyone is impressed.
The next day, Wyatt takes the girls into the studio.
Melody loves the “mooshy” walls.
Josie is in awe of the brand-new instruments.
Melody likes the mixer for its shiny knobs.
Wyatt’s like “Hands off, bitch.”
It’s the Megasound 8000, the most expensive piece of equipment in the studio.
Valerie asks Wyatt how it works, and he’s evasive.
The girls tease Wyatt about keeping a secret. He decides to show them how it works in order to shut them up. He asks them to play something for him.
Song: “3 Small Words” by Josie and the Pussycats
They play a bit of “3 Small Words”, and then Wyatt works the machine.
When they listen to the playback, right before which Valerie gives Josie a tight squeeze (just saying), Melody suddenly wants a Big Mac, despite being a vegetarian, and suggests getting one on the way back to the hotel.
Valerie agrees, but she also wants to go shoe shopping at Foot Locker. So does Josie. Josie even uses “jerkin'” and lets out a cute little slightly insane laugh.
Wyatt suddenly stops the playback and threatens to drop them back at Riverdale Mall if they’re not ready to make a record. Where did this come from? Is it because they wanna do other shit? They clearly wanna do that shit on their way back to the hotel.
Wyatt and the Cabots watch and listen as Josie and the Pussycats lay down their first track.
Josie is nervous.
Valerie gives her
lover friend a reassuring smile.
Valerie checks on Melody.
All right, Pussycats are all in place. Let’s do it!
Song: “Pretend to Be Nice” by Josie and the Pussycats
Wyatt is pleased. Alex is into it. Alexandra seems disinterested.
Y’know, it occurs to me that it’s unclear who wrote this song (the ‘cats or the corporates) and why they didn’t just record “3 Small Words”, but the real-world answer is “We already heard that.”
As the song continues playing, we get a montage:
The band does a photo shoot.
They also shoot the music video for this song.
This montage has some really clever transitions; screencaps can’t do them justice.
The girls’ popularity grows. They’ve got “the best CD ever”.
I see they sneaked another pussy joke into the movie.
Fiona has visions of merchandise.
A fan recognizes Melody on the street.
Melody gets scared and runs away, because…she thinks she sees herself?
Ha! That’s pretty damn funny. It’s a joke that was, no doubt, put in by the editor, Peter Teschner.
As the montage ends, Alexandra refuses to accept the Pussycats’ fame.
Even Josie is concerned enough to pause the celebration and question all of this happening in a week. Melody and Valerie think about it, and Wyatt gets on his phone, but her bandmates end up not being concerned, so neither is Josie, so their lives are spared for now.
There’s a knock on their hotel room door, so they answer it.
Oh, Goddess, it’s the mean girls from Riverdale.
Josie doesn’t recognize them, but Valerie does, and then so does Josie.
The mean girls fangirl over Josie and the Pussycats, calling them “the new DuJour”. They are about to show the girls their Pussycat tattoos, but Valerie and Josie quickly slam the door.
Wyatt is unconcerned and vaguely talks about revenge against high school enemies.
Wyatt informs them that Fiona, the head of MegaRecords, is throwing a huge party tonight in their honor: “a celebration of all things Josie”.
He gives Josie and Melody invitations. We see Josie’s face is on Josie’s invitation. We don’t see the photo on Melody’s invitation, but it’s presumably of Melody. Maybe. Valerie asks why she didn’t get one. Wyatt feigns innocence and allows her to come along. Racist motherfucker.
Alexandra asks about herself and Alexander, but Wyatt shoots that down.
Josie is overwhelmed at the idea of the party, nervously calling it “kinda cool”. So of course Wyatt brings up playing their own stadium concert this weekend (supposedly breaking his promise to Fiona that she could tell them). Josie suggests playing some small clubs and doing a few gigs in Europe first to build a following. Wyatt’s dismissive of her idea and says the stadium concert will have a “simultaneous pay-per-view webcast, live streaming video” (which I’m sure is redundant). This must have been cutting edge in 2001. Anyway, they will have an audience of millions.
“Mely-Mel” is excited for their first concert and thanks Wyatt, but he tells her to thank Fiona.
What the fuck is Fiona wearing?
In the command center, Fiona talks about Operation: Big Concert, where they finally take things to the next level.
The entire concert audience (live and home) will have to purchase these cat-ear headsets, which will debut “3DX Surround Sound, a new technology that makes the music feel like it’s happening all around you, like 3D”. As funny as Fiona’s delivery of this line is, this hasn’t aged well and was actually outdated even in 2001.
Fiona gives them a demonstration by playing a bit of “Pretend to Be Nice” and then revealing the subliminal message, which is delivered by Mr. Moviephone: “Conform! Free will is overrated! Jump on the bandwagon!” He does all of their subliminal tracks.
Agent Kelly congratulates Fiona.
There’s then a bit of time wasting on a gag where Fiona keeps accidentally hinting there’s more to her plan than she told them, and he questions her on it, and she has to bullshit her way out of it. It wears out its welcome.
Back at the hotel, Josie watched an episode of Behind the Music about the Chief (Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, the executive producer of the soundtrack album), a former bandmate of Captain & Tennille that Captain kicked out of the group. Supposedly, Captain had told him the same thing that Josie had told Valerie and Melody: friends first, the band second. Josie thinks about this.
Meanwhile, Melody is taking a shower and singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It“. The joke is, every time that she claps her hands, she drops her loofah, so she has to pause, bend over, pick it up, and continue.
She misses a mysterious figure moving past the shower.
She sees this, though, and is horrified.
Alan heralds his arrival with a knock and a song about pizza. Josie apologizes for forgetting about their pizza date, which was never mentioned, but we haven’t even seen Alan for, like, 21 minutes.
Anyway, Josie explains about the party and expects Alan to make fun of her dress. She didn’t pick it out, but she cut up the front and made wristbands. He likes it.
Josie asks Alan to help her with a chain.
Then Wyatt comes in and ruins the moment. Wyatt gets Alan’s name wrong (“Alec N.”), and Alan corrects him. Wyatt makes fun of his initial. The movie doesn’t address it, and I doubt the comics ever established what the M stands for, but Alan’s name in the comics is Alan M. Mayberry.
Wyatt literally drags Josie out the door. Josie lamely tries to comfort Alan by saying there’s free cable in the room. Alan asks her if she wants to do something tomorrow. Josie does, but it has to be worked into her schedule in between TV interviews. Wyatt eventually schedules it at 4:15 PM – and also insults Alan and gets his name wrong again (“Adam-12”) on his way out. Josie apologizes to Alan on her way out.
At the party, which looks more like a celebration of all things Fiona, “Pretend to Be Nice” is playing on the speakers.
Wyatt, Josie, Valerie, and Melody arrive.
We hear the girls’ thoughts:
Josie is uncomfortable with people staring at them. She’s convinced that no one thinks she should be here.
Valerie is upset that people are staring at Josie. She’s convinced that no one thinks she (Valerie) should be here.
Melody is singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It”.
The lights dim, and Fiona is introduced.
Fiona arrives, descending a staircase, to what seems to be her own cover of “Pretend to Be Nice”. If you were a music artist, how would you feel about the head of your record label doing this?
Fiona introduces herself to the girls and welcomes them to their party.
The girls awkwardly applaud.
Fiona takes them away to “go be girls”.
She takes them to her “girly room” (“No boys allowed.”) and invites them to sit on the bed and gossip. A hot guy brings in a tray of snacks.
Melody excitedly goes for the Pringles.
Fiona seems way too eager to get Josie into bed.
This is so fucking weird.
Fiona’s asks for Josie’s weight (which is none of her fucking business), and we learn it’s 118. Fiona is (supposedly) 115 and gloats about it.
Fiona suddenly speaks with a lisp and talks about how Josie is “so pretty and popular”. Josie asks her about it (the comment, not the lisp), and Fiona bullshits she was talking about the song. Valerie asks “What song?” Seriously? Well, anyway, Fiona says the new single. She then catches on to her own lisp and bullshits she has something caught in her teeth. She leaves and comes back, her voice now normal. She suggest french braiding.
When our girls go outside, Valerie asks about Fiona being a freak.
Melody talks about an “ice-cold chill” creeping up her spine, but Valerie points out that it’s because of where Melody’s sitting (the “o” in Fiona’s name).
However, Melody still has the shivers after standing up and says “It’s not the ‘o’; it’s her.”
Josie asks Valerie for her opinion. Valerie says “some things feel like they’ve changed completely” since they left Riverdale. She doesn’t elaborate on this.
Fiona is watching them on her laptop, and that’s some damn good resolution for 2001. Was this even possible back then?
Fiona doesn’t like Melody and Valerie. “They’re asking questions, and that’s dangerous.” Wyatt offers to get rid of them and have a new band by the morning. Fiona points out that they’ve already sold 500,000 Josie ears for the big concert. She wants Josie kept around and Melody and Valerie killed.
Wyatt doesn’t think Josie will play without her friends. Fiona guesses they’ll persuade her and predicts Josie’s “tragic loss” will be on the next episode of Behind the Music. She and Wyatt then get into an evil laugh competition – before Fiona nearly makes him choke on a snack.
Song: “Shapeshifter” by Josie and the Pussycats
The next day, Alan and Josie go on a date to the city aquarium. Alan invites her to attend a short gig that he’s gotten at a bar tonight. She agrees to come.
They then get chased by a crowd of Josie’s fans.
They ditch the crowd by going through an unlocked door into another room, and the crowd somehow doesn’t realize it, despite appearing in the shot before the door even finishes closing.
Josie thanks Alan for saving her.
Song: “You Don’t See Me” (instrumental) by Josie and the Pussycats
Josie asks how she’s gonna pull this off. Alan is confused.
Josie says she’s a girl from Riverdale, not a rock star (even though she’d previously admitted to Valerie that she was). Alan tells “Jose” that she’s been dreaming about this for her whole life. Josie is scared. Alan tells her to not be scared and to believe in herself. Josie asks what if she can’t. Alan says then he’ll just have to believe in her for her.
Then they’re interrupted by an obsessive fan. Josie and Alan get the fuck out.
Back at the hotel, Josie asks what they should open the concert with and suggests “Spin Around” or “Come On”.
Valerie’s too distracted by the media’s focus on Josie, though.
Josie then suggests “Roll On, Rolly Wheel” (which isn’t an actual song, at least not until 2006, when it was recorded by Flamingo 50) but guesses the lyrics still need some work.
Oh, and Melody’s drinking Diet Coke out of a can with Josie’s photo on it.
Anyway, Josie asks Valerie for her opinion. Valerie says it’s her call, because she’s the boss. Josie disputes that and asks what’s with her.
Wyatt arrives, and Valerie continues on about all of the focus being on Josie.
Wyatt says both Valerie and Melody are going on TRL with Carson Daly, so the world can get to know the other Pussycats.
Melody asks Wyatt if she gets to touch Carson and squeals with joy when he says “Any way you like.”
Wyatt says the taping’s in two hours. Yeah, Total Request Live, despite the name, was usually pretaped. Valerie asks Josie if she has a problem with this. Josie doesn’t, predicting they’ll have a great time; she loves that show; she doesn’t care about petty shit like who gets to do interviews and who doesn’t.
A grateful Valerie hugs her
girlfriend friend and apologizes. Josie’s confused.
Wyatt says there are stylists and designers waiting in their room, and Melody and Valerie leave.
Wyatt then gives Josie “homework”: listen to the remix of their next single and share her thoughts with him. Josie wants to put it off until tomorrow and explains about Alan M.’s first gig tonight. Wyatt obviously lies that Alan called his office earlier and that they’d canceled his show. Josie is disappointed but wonders why Alan didn’t call her here. He suggests checking for a message down at the front desk. He then awkwardly excuses himself to make a mumbling cell phone call while still in the room with her. He then tells her that there’s a message waiting for her. Josie decides to call Alan. A panicking Wyatt tells Josie that Alan said he won’t be available for several hours and will call Josie when he can.
Josie finds it hard to believe all of that was in the message. Wyatt says yes, excuses himself, pulls the same cell phone shit, and says yes again. Can anyone possibly be less convincing?
A suspicious Josie asks him who he keeps calling. Wyatt freezes for a moment and then goes off on “Josephine” about how he’s busy running a label.
He also guilts her over wanting to put off the few minutes that it would take to listen to the remix and offer an opinion. Josie tries to convince Wyatt of her commitment. He leaves her with the CD.
Melody and Valerie arrive on the set of TRL. Melody is excited.
It doesn’t take them long to realize something is amiss, though. Everything is fake.
Suddenly, Aries Spears shows up, claiming to be Carson Daly. Valerie points out the obvious lie, but he continues with it.
Then the real Carson Daly shows up, so…what was the point?
Melody is excited to see Carson, but he mocks this in his response. Dick.
Carson and fake Carson then get into an argument over the latter impersonating him, and then fake Carson impersonates Mike Tyson and references the bite. Valerie asks what the fuck’s going on.
Carson announces this is Total Request Dead and says they’re gonna kill them.
Melody finds this hilarious, because killing isn’t a request.
Carson wants to be the one to kill Melody. Valerie realizes he’s not kidding. She and Melody run away, and the guys give chase.
Song: “You Don’t See Me” by Josie and the Pussycats
Back at the hotel, Josie takes a bath and listens to the new single.
She misses a call from Alan, who’s at his gig.
Alan eventually gives up and goes back to performing (to an audience that really doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to him), dedicating his next song (“Wish You Felt the Same”) to Josie.
Well, okay, he’s got one fan.
Back on the fake TRL set, fake Carson confronts Valerie with…an Eddie Murphy impression.
Meanwhile, Melody tries to defend herself against Carson and is in disbelief that he’s a killer. They talk about each other’s hotness. We learn Melody is a Scorpio, and Carson is a Cancer.
Meanwhile, Valerie calls out fake Carson on his “terrible” Chris Rock impression and says he’s not funny.
“You know who’s funny? Bill Cosby. And he’s gonna kill yoooooouuuuuu! Have to stick the spoon in your puddiiiiiing!” Um, yeah, let’s move on.
He attacks. She dodges. He falls and is out for now.
Meanwhile, Melody and Carson are discussing their favorite movies. Melody’s is Lady and the Tramp, and Carson claims his is, too. He reveals the conspiracy to her but adds he’d date her otherwise. She seems pleased.
While he’s distracted with thoughts of her, she knocks him over the railing and says she’d never go out with a guy like him.
Valerie drags her off to find Josie. In a cute moment, Melody says “Bye” to the celebrity cardboard cutout that she’d used to knock out Carson.
Back at the hotel, Josie’s still listening to “You Don’t See Me” while getting her nails done. Valerie knocks on the door and calls out to Josie. Josie seems annoyed but has the manicurist let them in.
Josie wonders how they got in, since she told the front desk that she didn’t want visitors. Melody asks Josie if she’s okay. Josie says yes and adds she has the #1 single in the country, but Melody and Valerie “should maybe be a little worried”. Melody brings up Carson’s murder attempt and theorizes it has something to do with their music. Josie takes issue with the fact that Melody calls it “our music”. Valerie is frustrated with Josie.
Josie then goes full-on bitch diva. This confirms Valerie’s suspicion that Josie’s been thinking this the whole time.
Josie then asks Valerie “Who’s a rock star?” Twice. An upset Valerie turns and runs away.
After Valerie leaves, Melody pleads with Josie. Josie brings her to tears by shattering her worldview, especially with this iconic line:
“Puppies…turn into dogs…who get old…and die!”
This is too much for Melody. She turns and runs away as well. Josie yells “Someday you’ll thank me!”
Song: “You Don’t See Me” by Josie and the Pussycats
Valerie packs to leave.
Melody goes to the shelter to visit puppies.
Alexandra tries to “comfort” an upset Alan.
Alex is dealing with his own drama.
Josie goes for a walk while still listening to the single.
She stops and looks at the posters of the band.
We then dive into Josie’s CD player and learn – shocker! – there’s a subliminal message on the single! Mr. Moviephone says: “You are the star! Val and Melody are mean, evil girls! You should have a solo career! You have the #1 single in the country! Val and Mel are trying to glom onto your talent and your credit! If they’re doing equal amounts of work, why isn’t the band called Valerie and the Pussycats?! They’re just dead weight, Josie! You can be huge without them! Madonna huge! Val and Melody talk about you behind your back! Melody thinks you can’t sing! Seriously! She told me! Dump them! They are trying to destroy you, Josie! You’ll be better off without them! Who’s a rock star?! You are! A great big rock star! A Mick Jagger-sized rock star! Go, Josie! Go! Go! Go!”
Josie’s so over whatever feelings that she was starting to have.
She stops and watches the “Pretend to Be Nice” music video through a store window.
Then she sees her picture in another window.
Josie then collides with a skateboarder and takes a spill.
As Josie gathers up her shit, she comes across her Riverdale Transit Authority bus pass, which has a different photo than Valerie’s bus pass, though they’re all wearing the same clothes, so they obviously got their bus passes on the same day. It seems Josie and Melody jumped in on Valerie’s photo, and Melody and Valerie jumped in on Josie’s photo. Even though we don’t see it, we can assume Josie and Valerie jumped in on Melody’s photo.
That’s not what I wanna talk about, though. The ZIP code is completely different on Josie’s bus pass (even though their street address is the same: 110 Glenbrooke St); here it’s 99860. One might at first think this places Riverdale in California, but the ZIP code (which isn’t valid) actually falls within the range used in Alaska. Yeah. Riverdale, Alaska. I’ll buy that.
Seeing her bus pass causes Josie to remember her friendship with Melody and Valerie.
When she reaches to pick up her CD player, she starts to remember what Melody had tried to tell her, and ominous music starts playing. She scoops everything up and runs back to the hotel.
Upon arrival, she calls out for Valerie.
She finds the Cabots there instead. Y’know, the rooming arrangement for all of them is never made clear. Do they have separate rooms? Why are Alexandra and Alex in the room that Josie expects to find Valerie in?
Anyway, Alex makes fun of her. Josie asks what’s going on and where Mel and Val are.
Alexandra asks “Since when do you care?” Josie is surprised and speechless. Alexandra tells “Bitchy McBitch” that she heard what she said and wishes she’d said it.
Alex informs Josie that her bandmates are gone and compares the breakup to bands like the Beatles, the Jackson 5, and A Flock of Seagulls. He then offers Josie a Red Bull.
Josie, in an act that she’d never thought she’d do, asks the Cabots for help. Alexandra enjoys that. Josie yells.
They go into the studio, and Josie inserts the CD into the mixer while talking about it. “You Don’t See Me” starts up mid-song when the CD’s barely in.
Josie starts messing with the sound levels of the various tracks on the mixer. That’s…not how this works.
Anyway, she notices something and raises the audio on the subliminal track, which has different messaging than we heard earlier: “You should have a solo career! You could have your own primetime TV series! We could call it Josie and run it right after Will & Grace!”
Alexandra recognizes Mr. Moviephone and somehow thinks Josie got him to put the messaging on the CD. She “realizes” Josie fucked Mr. Moviephone. Josie’s like “What the fuck are you babbling about?” and realizes Wyatt put the messaging on the CD to brainwash her.
Alexandra thinks that’s ridiculous until:
“Diet Coke’s the new Pepsi One.”
Josie tries to figure out what “MS” stands for.
She realizes it stands for Megasound 8000.
Josie turns it on, and they hear the subliminal track that was placed on their debut single (it’s awfully convenient that it’s still in there, but maybe MegaRecords is planning on putting it on future releases as well): “Josie and the Pussycats are the best band ever! They are totally jerkin’! You must buy their CD! You have to see them in concert! You also have to buy Steve Madden shoes! Heath Ledger is the new Matt Damon! You’re nobody without an Abercrombie & Fitch vintage tee!”
Josie realizes they’re selling stuff – and the band itself – through her band’s music. She somehow blames herself for this and calls herself a “trend pimp”.
“Well, it stops here! I’m nobody’s pimp!”
She decides she’s not going to let Wyatt and Fiona get away with this. She says they’re going to the police and taking the Megasound 8000 with them.
Before Josie has a chance to do absolutely nothing, Fiona arrives with some muscle.
Carson Daly starts covering the concert on TRL.
Pussycats fans are psyched.
Josie is brought to the stadium (in different clothes), where Fiona makes fun of her. Josie refuses to play and brainwash kids, and she quits.
Wyatt tries to call Josie out on suddenly being principled, but she didn’t know about the brainwashing until just a short while ago. Fiona feels Josie is ungrateful.
Fiona tries to tempt Josie with sounds of the crowd chanting Josie’s name, but Josie won’t have it and tells Fiona to find herself another girl. Fiona would, but everybody’s already here.
Oh, Alexandra and Alexander were also brought here.
Ooh, everyone’s here!
Valerie tells Melody to not talk to “Miss Diva”. Josie starts to explain the conspiracy, but Fiona shuts her up.
At Fiona’s request, Wyatt unveils a car for Melody and Valerie. Melody is happy and excited, and Fiona is frustrated at her stupidity (although, considering the presentation, she really has no one to blame but herself).
Awww, Melody’s sad that no one won a car.
They have a pretaped “MTV breaking news” segment with Serena Altschul. If Josie decides not to play tonight, the car – with Melody and Valerie in it – will explode in the stadium parking lot, resulting in a “slow, fiery death inside the four-wheeled hell pit”.
This news segment establishes Valerie’s last name as Brown (although technically it was seen on her bus pass earlier) and Melody’s last name as Valentine – both inventions for this movie. Previously, in the comics, Valerie’s last name was Smith, and Melody’s last name was Jones. I really love the name Melody Valentine.
Valerie and Melody are then put in the car.
Josie agrees to play.
Melody is happy that Josie still likes them.
Song: “Spin Around” by Josie and the Pussycats
Josie then gives a speech about her friendship with the girls. It’s a nice touch that they’re using the same music here as during their friendship promise on the plane. Anyway, Josie considers them to be her best friends.
This leads into a discussion of time travel, and Melody expresses her desire to meet Snoopy.
Josie loves that about Melody: her limitless optimism. Josie also reminds Valerie that Valerie bought Josie her first guitar. They started this band together, but Josie gives Valerie the credit for them coming this far. Josie doesn’t care what the band’s name is. She calls Valerie her “sister” and adds “I love you.” Valerie says “I love you, too, Jose.”
Melody and Valerie then express their love for each other. Then Melody expresses her love for Josie. As Josie is about to express her love for Melody, Fiona shoves Josie out of the way and tells them to start the fucking show already.
As Wyatt and Fiona get the Megasound ready, Josie asks Fiona what the current subliminal message is. Fiona says it’s “much, much bigger” but isn’t more specific.
Josie threatens to expose their secret. Fiona asks “cookie” who will believe her.
Song: “DuJour Around the World” (instrumental) by DuJour
Just then, four mysterious figures arrive! Who could they be?!
“Who the fuck are these guys?”
Fiona asks basically the same thing.
Holy shit, it’s DuJour!
Alexandra, who apparently wasn’t tied up very well, is excited to see Les. Wyatt is surprised to see Les.
Les tells Melody that he tried to warn her with the message on her mirror. Melody is surprised that that was him.
“DuJour was in my bathroom!”
Alexandra is suddenly hopelessly bound and gagged again with no explanation. She mumbles “I love you, Les.” He blows her a kiss – kind of. Valerie thought they were killed in a plane crash. Fiona wants answers, too – especially from Wyatt. Les says they managed to land the plane just fine. Unfortunately, it was in the parking lot of a Metallica show. All of the fans beat the crap out of them. I love how Valerie just nods like “Yeah, that makes sense.” Wyatt notes Les doesn’t look too bad.
“And I thank God every day I knew the words to ‘Enter Sandman’!”
Awww, not Zaius!
“Let’s get ’em, boys – DuJour style!”
Unfortunately, DuJour poses no threat to Fiona and Wyatt (though massive points for trying), but the distraction does give Josie time to untie Valerie. But then Fiona catches Josie and shit-talks the girls and their town (calling it “Shitdale”).
Song: “Real Wild Child” by Josie and the Pussycats
“Wyatt, you messed with the wrong pussy.”
Holy shit, Melody can kick ass!
“You want some?!”
“C’mon, bring it!”
“What’re you gonna do?! Kill me with the guitar?!”
Josie tries to convince Fiona that Fiona needs her. Fiona tells “doll” that she created her and can destroy her.
Josie simply gets out of the way, and dumbass Fiona accidentally smashes the Megasound 8000.
Everyone wearing Pussycats headphones gets feedback and takes them off.
“I’m sorry, did you need that?”
Fiona demands Wyatt fix it. Wyatt demands a random guy fix it.
Suddenly, Mr. Moviephone’s voice comes on, saying the subliminal message that Fiona intended to send out to the world: “Fiona is the most jerkin’ girl in the world! Everybody loves Fiona! She’s got the best hair and the most awesome clothes! And she’s so thin! I know I want to be just like Fiona!”
Everyone is shocked. Josie calls Fiona out on her attempt to grab universal popularity. Fiona feigns innocence and goes into a lisp.
The subliminal message continues. A lispy Fiona interrupts Mr. Moviephone and takes over recording the message, because he’s “not doing it right”. She says “If I was a guy, I’d so wanna ask her out. And if I was a girl, I’d wanna be her best friend forever. We’d have slumber parties and stay up all night, braiding each other’s hair, and we’d have tickle fights!”
Fiona is upset at them for laughing (even though she totally deserves it for what she’s done). She says they don’t know what it’s like to be teased and ridiculed their whole life.
Josie gets it. Still doesn’t excuse Fiona’s behavior, though.
Fiona tries reciting a tongue twister and fails. All that Fiona ever wanted was to be popular. Wyatt recognizes her as Lisa Snyder (“Lithping Litha”), which was her nickname in Huntington High School. Wyatt identifies himself as “White-Ass Wally”. Fiona is shocked that Wyatt is “the albino kid”, especially because Wyatt is a Brit. Wyatt reveals his accent is fake, and he thought it would make him more attractive. What’s really funny about this is you have a Scot playing an American pretending to be British. Fiona mentions he was so pale.
Um, yeah, sure.
Fiona says she learned to speak without a lisp.
Wyatt has been holding in his gut for the past fifteen years.
“This is so romantic.”
Josie agrees but adds “in a creepy, ironic sort of way”.
Alexandra asks what the moral of the story is and guesses “Freaks should date other freaks.” Alex says the moral is “You should be happy with who you are.”
Alex says spending money on expensive clothes, trying to impress people, never made him happy. He realizes “Happiness is on the inside.” Declaring “I’m not what I wear!”, Alex takes off his shirt. Josie nods in approval. He tells Alexandra to think about this. Unlike the “whackjobs”, Alexandra believes she’s perfect just as she is. Agent Kelly arrives and is shocked that she’s “got a skunk on her head”. Ha.
Agent Kelly realizes it’s just her hair and apologizes but also says it’s “messed up”. A confused Josie asks him who the fuck he is, and he tells her.
A relieved Josie then explains what Fiona and Wyatt have done. Agent Kelly acts shocked. Fiona reveals he knew about it, but he has his men arrest Fiona and Wyatt.
Agent Kelly apologizes to Fiona but says somebody’s gotta take the fall. Besides, after the concert, they were gonna shut down their entire operation, anyway. They found subliminal messages work much better in movies.
Alex reminds the girls of their concert.
The Pussycats rise up onto the stage to cheers of “Josie!” They’re nervous and slowly take their places.
Josie informs the crowd that she’s gonna take her ears off. When she does, the crowd takes their headsets off.
When she puts hers back on, they put theirs back on.
Josie tells them to stop. She says they’re gonna play something different for them tonight – something that they haven’t heard. She says it’s cool if they like it and all right if they don’t, but she tells them to decide for themselves.
Josie dedicates the song to Alan M. (without saying his name) and “kinda” wishes he was here now.
Song: “Spin Around” by Josie and the Pussycats