Josie and the Pussycats is a 2001 satire musical comedy film released by Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed and co-written by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, the film is loosely based upon the Archie comic of the same name. The film stars Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson as the Pussycats, with Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, and Gabriel Mann in supporting roles.
PlotEditWyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) is an executive with record label MegaRecords. The label, headed by the trend-conscious and scheming Fiona (Parker Posey), manufactures faddish pop bands for consumption by the teenage market. Conspiring with the United States government, they add subliminal messages under the music to brainwash teens into buying their records and other consumer products, creating "a new trend every week". The Government's plan is to build a robust economy from the "wads of cash" teenagers supposedly earn from babysitting and minimum wage jobs. When a member of Wyatt's wildly successful boy band, Du Jour, uncovers one such message and asks Wyatt about it aboard their private jet, Wyatt and the pilot (Harry Elfont) parachute out of the plane, leaving it to crash and kill the band members.
Wyatt lands just outside the town of Riverdale and meets an unappreciated rock band, the Pussycats: vocalist/guitarist Josie McCoy (Rachael Leigh Cook), drummer Melody Valentine (Tara Reid), and bassist/backup vocalist Valerie Brown (Rosario Dawson). Because they are struggling financially, the Pussycats accept Wyatt's lucrative record deal despite its implausibility. They are flown to New York City where they are renamed "Josie and the Pussycats", much to the girls' discomfort. All goes well and their first single climbs rapidly to the top of the charts, but Valerie grows increasingly frustrated that all media attention is focused on Josie rather than the band as a whole. Melody, too simple to notice the undue attention Josie receives, uses her uncanny behavioral perception and becomes suspicious of Fiona and Wyatt.
Before Valerie and Melody's suspicions can reveal the conspiracy, Fiona orders Wyatt to kill them. He sends them without Josie to a fake television appearance on the MTV show Total Request Live, where a Carson Daly impersonator and the real Carson Daly assault them with baseball bats. The girls survive due to their attackers' incompetence. Meanwhile, Wyatt prevents Josie from attending a gig by Alan M (Gabriel Mann), Josie's love interest, by telling her it was canceled. Instead, Josie listens to a remix of their latest single. The remix contains a subliminal message track designed to brainwash her into desiring a solo career, and into seeing Valerie and Melody are impediments to that goal. After an argument with her band mates, Josie realizes that the recording caused the fight. Her suspicions are confirmed when she uses a mixing board to make the subliminal track audible, but she is caught by Fiona.
MegaRecords have organized a giant pay-per-view concert, whereby they plan to unleash their biggest subliminal message yet. They force Josie to perform solo on stage by holding Melody and Valerie hostage. The badly injured members of Du Jour—who survived by grounding their plane, but landed in the middle of a Metallica concert where they were severely beaten by Metallica fans—appear just in time to stop Wyatt and Fiona from launching the message. In the resulting fight, Josie destroys the machine used to generate the messages. The new subliminal message is revealed not to promote the band, the label, or a corporate sponsor, but to make Fiona universally popular. Fiona suffers a breakdown and reveals that she had been a social outcast in high school. Wyatt reveals that his appearance is a disguise—that he went to the same high school as Fiona, but was a persecuted and unpopular albino. Fiona and Wyatt immediately fall in love. The government agents colluding with Fiona arrive, but because the conspiracy is exposed, they arrest Fiona and Wyatt as scapegoats to cover-up the government's involvement in the failed scheme.
Josie, Valerie, and Melody perform the concert together, and for the first time their fans are able to judge the band on its merits, free of subliminal persuasion. Alan M arrives and confesses his love for Josie on stage, and she returns his feelings. The audience roars their approval as the film comes to a close.