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April 17, 2001 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-04-17

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Don't study ... party!
eriously, we all have finals to
worry about, but classes are
officially over so go out, get
down and hook up! You'll be
glad you did.
michigandaily.com/arts

£RrS

TUESDAY
APRIL 17, 2001

7B

Josie's vile kittens drown
in self-aware pop trash

| J Punk pioneer Ramone dead at 49

By Christopher Cousins
Daily Arts Writer
It all opens with that first pop.
Maybe it's the quick, double time
snap of the drums that pulls you in.
S r the familiar backdrop, schwillin'
roove of Steve Miller's "The Joker."
When the lyrical deluge of "Angel of
the Morning"'
eases in, Shaggy
and his reggae
JOS e 8td roots have us
Sand under his hip
'Pusisycts pop pleasure
control.
Grade:C+ If you look
simply on the
At Quality 16 and surface level at
Showcase this recent Bill-
board hit,
"Angel" is a
conglomerate of
music that takes
direct cues from
both the '60s and '70s. It's three
songs in one. What then are we listen-
ing to? Is "Angel" even a song in the
eal sense of the word, or simply a
ell-crafted, easily recycled object of
recognition, guilty pleasure or not.
"Josie and the Pussycats," Harry
Elfont and Deborah Kaplan's follow-
up to their early teen genre revival
flop "Can't Hardly Wait," looks at this
phenomenon and bears its paws. A
funny satire on the commercialism of
teenagers and pop music today blend-
ed with the tale of three rockin' ladies
-med with drums, guitars, bass and
ocals just ripe from their garage
band days, "Josie and the Pussycats"
(based off the Archie comic and the
cartoon of the same name) is a self-
conscious, product placement gag of
a film. At times, it's a sweet little kitty
lapping up some warm milk; at oth-
ers, it's a tomcat caught in a garbage
disposal.
The too-cool-to-be-cool Rachael
Leigh Cook plays Josie, the front
*oman for an alternative guitar pop
trio (vocals by Letters to Cleo singer
Kay Hanely) the Pussycats; her best
girls Val (Rosario Dawson) and
Melanie (Tara Reid) cut their teeth at
bass and drums, respectively. When
the pop boy band sensation DuJour (a
hilarious send-up of 'N Sync and the
Backstreet Boys, which features Seth
Green in a red, fluffy stole) disap-
ars in a "mysterious" plane crash
ear Riverdale, manager Wyatt Frame
(Alan Gumming) heads into town to
find the "next big thing." Sure
enough, what does Frame find, but
three little kittens on their way to star-
dom.
Elfont and Kaplan's script is so

aware at times it's a gem; when Josie
asks Alexandra (the nasty sister of
their Riverdale manager) why she's
here, she retorts with "I'm here
because I was in the comic book."
They go overboard, into that so hip, so
cool, so funny territory that it's just
annoying.
Filled with product placements
everywhere - Target, Steve Madden,
Starbucks, Ivory Soap - this joke,
too, wears a little thin and the film
runs out of steam. After a week of
being under the powers of Frame and
Fiona (Parker Posey), the villainess
behind "the whole conspiracy to
brainwash the youth of America with
pop music" says Carson Daly (who
has a cameo in the film), Josie and the
Pussycats are the top selling band in
the country. But they're not happy.
You know the rest. Foil plot, the love
story side plot, play big stadium con-
cert, etc.
The music of "Josie and the Pussy-
cats" works as both background tracks
and part of the band's actual songs.
Kaplan and Elfont, who wrote many
of lyrics, along with producer Baby-
face, seem to spin some fun, catchy
girl pop - that would have sold in the
early to mid '90s during the Veruca
Salt/Breeders era.
"Josie and the Pussycats" is tongue-
in-cheek and a little smarter than what
it looks to be. But this pussy's still a
little stankin'. I have to wonder. Here
is a film that's basically what it's mak-
ing a satire of: A commercially dri-
ven, merchandise frenzy released by a
large studio. Do Elfont and Kaplan
care?
"Josie and the Pussycats" is just
another recycled movie, filled with
scenes and events that we've all seen
before from teen comedies and other
TV, based-off-other-material films.
Maybe these three little kittens didn't
lose their mittens, but they sure aren't
getting any pie.

By Elizabeth Hill
For the Daily
Joey Ramone, frontman of one of
the first punk bands ever, died at 2:40
p.m. Sunday of lymphoma.
Joey Ramone was the voice of the
Ramones, the band that paved the way
for such punk legends as the Sex Pis-
tols and the Clash. The Ramones' for-
mula was simple: Four chords, four
guys, same last name and no song over
two minutes.
It was 1974 when four scraggly kids
from Queens picked up instruments,
changed their last names to Ramone
and proceeded to energize a lackluster
era in rock music. Just when power
ballads were getting pushed off the
charts by hypnotic disco tracks, the
Ramones were playing to rebellious
crowds that included Debbie Harry,
Patti Smith, David Johansen and Iggy
Pop. When they became the first punk

band ever to sign a record contract,
the Ramones were a surprise success.
Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman,
started off on the drums but quickly
realized he wasn't up to the job. Joey
had written some songs which he
would sing while keeping time on the
skins. That, combined with the fact
that his arms couldn't keep up with the
rest of the band, forced a switch. So
their manager Tommy sat down to the
drums, Dee Dee moved to bass, John-
ny to guitar and Joey stepped up to the
mic.
Joey, staring behind his trademark
shades and black curtains of hair, belt-
ed out countless punk songs at a

break-neck pace - sometimes ballis-
tic, sometimes bubble-gum - includ-
ing, "Let's Dance," "Beat on the Brat,"
"I Wanna Be Sedated," "Sheena is a
Punk Rocker," and on and on through-
out their 32-year career.
Joey Ramone was unmistakable
onstage. Ripped jeans, leather jacket,
one foot in front of the other and
standing almost seven feet tall, he was
the prototype, the uber-punk of the late
'70s and beyond.
As a kid he was into glam rock or
"glitter." Revering bands like Kiss,
Sniper and the New York Dolls, he
hitch-hiked to clubs in his custom-
See RAMONE, Page 12B

y

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Tara Reid feels pretty Insecure standing next
to the big, thick axes of Cook and Dawson.

r

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The
it's always
CSNow i~

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inspired
t's inspired

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t.. _...._ . at.sf- .... 4...

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