As an early twentysomething woman, I have my fair share of nostalgic teen movies; Spice World will forever remain in my heart, even if it made no sense and the aliens were the stuff of nightmares, and every time I watch 10 Things I Hate About You (which, I have to say, is quite often), I am brought back to my childhood when I didn’t understand half the jokes (bratwurst anyone?) and Heath Ledger’s smile made me weak in the knees (RIP).
Another classic? Josie and the Pussycats. A lot of people avoided this movie due to it’s less than stellar reviews (Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 53% rating), but really, it’s a great combination of angsty-teen music, halter tops, and conspiracy theories; what could be more 2000s!
So why did everyone hate on this movie? Released in 2001, Josie and the Pussycats was made for a whopping $39 million, but flopped at the box office, earning only $14.9 million. Critics agreed that it’s cheesy storyline didn’t accurately evoke the subversive themes the movie so desperately attempted to portray. Where they meant to poke fun at the consumerist culture of America, many reviewers criticized the fact that the movie actually appropriated it by having more product placement than most movies. In a colourful review for USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna wrote: “The concept is so hypocritical, it’s like Britney Spears calling Christina Aguilera underdressed and overexposed.” What a topical review, I love it!
And yet, the movie remains a nostalgic favourite for people like me. Even if you weren’t a fan of the Archie comics—though really, who hasn’t binged Riverdale at this point?— here’s why you should rewatch Josie and the Pussycats and relive the sequinned days of the early 2000s.
I have to say, my preteen self was deeply influenced by the halter tops and flipped out hair donned by these three rockin’ babes. In Josie and the Pussycats, you’ll recognize some of your other favourite 2000s trends, including chokers, belly tops, and bandanas (I’m also a sucker for a good makeover scene, and this movie has a great one). The boys had some style too; who could forget Seth Green’s sweet orange feather boa?
For a movie with such a cheesy premise, this movie has some epic music. Kay Hanley, the voice behind Josie’s performance, has an empowering voice and perfectly emulates the punk-rock-pop angst that was so popular back in the day. Most will know her from the band Letters to Cleo or the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Sing along to these catchy songs and embrace the teenage angst. (Of course, “Backdoor Lover” by Dujour has to get an honourable mention.)
The cheesy, over-the-top premise
This movie is crazy; a large recording company is brainwashing teens through their favourite pop songs, and when their biggest message is set to be unleashed at the Josie and the Pussycats concert, it is revealed that Parker Posey’s character really just wanted people to like her, all because of her childhood status as an outcast. And that’s the plot. The whole thing. It’s insane. And yet, the crazy, over-the-top premise is what makes it so fun to watch. (Dujour surviving the plane crash only to be beat up by Metallica fans? Comedy gold, guys). It’s so silly and outrageous that you can’t help enjoying yourself. The flashy get-ups, paranoia-inspired conspiracy theories, and a healthy dose of overacting makes this movie just so lovable.
So why not give this movie another spin: you’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll sing along. And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try making a drinking game of it. Take a drink every time a logo appears on-screen, and see who can make it to the end.