Scene Unseen:
Josie And The Pussycats: Melody Showers

Film The cartoon, Josie And The Pussycats never really made her mark in the UK. The fact is that people do not sit about in pubs getting nostalgic about the cartoon about the girls with cat ears. I don't even remember seeing them on British tv, so when I saw the film it was very much from a fresh perspective. I adored it. Although outward appearances would suggest that its a film for forteen year old teenage girls (and I'm sure it works on that level) it has a deliciously subvsersive streak which works against the expectations. The film is laced, in fact smothered in product placement, every scene oosing with mentions for Mtv, clothing companies, drinks companies, sports companies. It's enough to make No Logo's Naomi Klien give up writing. But, the plotline revolves around the record company who sign the band subliminally using the music to advertise to listeners. Two faced or a subtle way of telling viewers that the company images on display are incidious. I'm guessing its the latter because when the Pussycats are being themselves, the ads slip away.

Then there are the songs. At the start of the film we meet fictional boyband 'Dejour' (featuring a post-Buffy Seth 'Oz' Green) bickering away about the trivial until they rumble the record company's plan and meet an untimely death. Here are the lyrics to their hit 'Backdoor Lover'. I should point out this is a PG film:

This kind of love is wrong
but you know it feels so right
Runnin' my hands across your cheeks
they're oh so smooth and white
so leave the light on baby
and unlock your back door
i'll be comin' through that way tonight
to love you for sure

Lyin' on your bed starin' up at the moon
you got me crazy
but i'll love you soon

i'm your back door lover
comin' from behind
with the lights down low
back door lover
just you and me
no one has to know
lemme meet you there at your secret spot
i'll show you a love thats
more than hot

Has there been a more cunning satire on the culture which follows the boyband and the subliminal double meaning which surrounds them as they start out at least (remember that Take That video with the sweat, the caps and the half nakedness? I try not to). The pop video for this song which appears on the dvd might look like it was knocked together in five minutes but it's shockingly close to the average clip which might appear on The Box.

What really makes the thing are the over the top performances. Its a visual cartoon and no one, not even Rachel Leigh Cook as Josie gets to be totally normal (although Rosario Dawson as fellow band member Cal comes closest). If I'm being honest, especially considering a cast that includes Eugene Levy and Parker Posey, its a rock version of A Mighty Wind which scews younger. But most of the jokes and references work for the older viewers and this is one of them. Tara Reid, one of the sassy ones in American Pie plays against type as Melody Valentine an airhead with a heart of gold (imagine Joey from Friends without common sense). Here she sings in the hotel shower, which is decked out in Macdonalds livery complete with sponges in the shape of a happy meal, but rather than practicing one of her own hits, or The Clash she sings:

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you're happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap clap)

And she really claps her hands, each time, dropping the sponge (which is shaped like a packet of fries), each time picking it up and starting the process again. She's happy in what's she's doing -- even though each time it drops to the floor it lengthens her shower time, its part of the process. It reminds me a little bit of the Tibetans who spend years on pilgrimages because they have to stop every few steps to bend over and pray. Within moments we find that its the preamble to a twist on the traditional thriller shower scene as a shadow passes by in the background. Unaware of this Melody leaves the cubicle and screams as she sees a mirror with the words "Beware of the Music" drawn on in lipstick. Rather than rushing out of the bathroom, she stops and carefully draws a face on the 'o' and turns the dot on the 'i' into a heart.
"That's better..." she grins as she leaves, completely failing to heed the warning.

It's a great scene because like I said it subverts expectations completely. Seeing Tara Reid in the shower should be sexy in an FHM way, but instead because of the character, the song, what she's doing and because the camera is locked off, it becomes an image of innocence of something that's lost in some people when they grow older and responsibilities kick in. Sometimes I feel just like Melody -- I'll try not to walk on the lines on the pavement, I'll splash in puddles, lick my plate and yes sing silly songs as the water sprinkles down my back. And when something hoves onto the horizon and scourges into this idyll, something shocking to throw us off track, can't we all take a lipstick out of this girl's purse and modify it so that it looks prettier. Very often its our attitude to something which is the problem, not the thing itself.

Which is kind of like this film, ignore the box, the trailer and the reviews and just watch it. It'll really take you by surprise.

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