Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
A girl group find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy to deliver subliminal messages through popular music.
For years, the record industries have inserted subliminal messages into music so that they can turn teenagers into brain dead zombies who do nothing but buy, buy, buy. And whenever the musician or band finds out the truth, the record company silences them to keep the truth from coming out. When the hot boy band DuJour discovers this, their manager, Wyatt Frame, under his evil, corrupt boss, Fiona, has the plane they are flying in crashed and him looking for a new band to use for their evil schemes. Enter Josie, the ditsy Melody, and the tough Valerie, from Josie and the Pussycats, a small band who wants to make it to the big time. When they are discovered by Wyatt, they give in and become big rock stars. But will they find out that they are just pawns for the record industry or will fame take them over?
- Wyatt Frame (Alan Cumming) is a record executive, working for record label MegaRecords. The label, headed by the trendy and scheming Fiona (Parker Posey) pumps out pop bands and, through an arrangement with the United States government, get teens to buy their records and follow "a new trend every week" by putting subliminal messages under the music. These messages change weekly; a fill-in-the-blank phrase of the film is [Blank] is the new nk], such as Orange is the new pink! The Government's motive in the scheme is to help build a robust economy from the "wads of cash" teenagers earn from babysitting and minimum wage jobs. When a member of Wyatt's wildly successful boy band, Du Jour, uncovers one such subliminal message and, with innocent concern, asks him about it aboard Du Jours private jet, Wyatt parachutes out with the pilot, leaving the plane to crash.
He lands just outside the town of Riverdale, and desperate for a replacement for Du Jour, he meets Josie (Rachael Leigh Cook), Melody (Tara Reid), and Valerie (Rosario Dawson): the financially struggling The Pussycats. He offers them a lucrative record deal and flies them off to Hollywood where they are renamed Josie and the Pussycats. All goes well, with instant popularity for the band until Valerie gets frustrated that the focus of the band is not on them as a whole, but rather Josie. Melody, too simple to notice the attention Josie receives, uses her uncanny behavioral perception and becomes suspicious of Fiona and Wyatt.
Because of these suspicions, an attempt is made to kill Valerie and Melody when they make an appearance without Josie on the MTV show Total Request Live. Meanwhile, Josie is brainwashed by subliminal messages in a new demo CD to try to push her into a solo career. Valerie and Melody survive the attempt on their life and return to their accommodation to discover Josie intent on a solo career. After a fight with her band mates, Josie realizes that the music influenced the fight and she goes to the studio to investigate the CD that she was given. Her suspicions are confirmed at the studio but she is caught by Fiona.
MegaRecords have organized a giant pay-per-view concert, whereby it is planned to unleash their biggest subliminal message scheme yet. They try to force Josie to perform on stage, otherwise Melody and Valerie will be killed. The surviving but badly injured members of Du Jour, who were thought to be dead, appear just in time to help the Pussycats. In the resulting fight scene, Josie manages to destroy the machine used to make the subliminal messages. The message is revealed to be one that will make Fiona popular, and it is exposed that Fiona is not the all powerful and confident figure that she has appeared to be. Her poor self-esteem began in high school where she talked with a lisp. Wyatt exclaims "Lisping Lisa?" and reveals that his appearance is a disguise - that he went to the same high school as Fiona, but was known as the albino kid, "White-Ass Wally". The two fall instantly in love, and are arrested by the government for crimes against the youth of America. The MegaRecords subliminal message program had been scrapped because the government decided to use movies instead.
Josie, Valerie, and Melody go on to perform the concert, and for the first time, the audience is able to judge the band on its merits, rather than be subliminally persuaded to like the band. The audience roars their approval as the film comes to a close.