Saturday, October 1, 2011

16427--Josie and the Pussycats Ain't Shakespeare

People aspire to greatness, to make a mark, to leave an impact on the world.  The level of success, whether in their own lifetime or after, is often measured by others.  As in relativity, the position of an observer has the power to be of significance to the subject of observation. 

For writers, it seems common to set a goal of striking at deep emotional themes in an audience.  I'd be willing to wager that to have our works received as products of serious import, carrying weight and merit as timeless portrayals of the enduring human condition, is the unspoken fantasy of many, many a scribe.  It's like being seen as the coolest, most interesting person at every party or the hottest rock star breathing.

"Emotionally stirring", however, doesn't mean that we should all sit down and grind out a Russian epic or unleash hubris enough to plan on being the next Shakespeare.  There are a lot of emotions available as targets of our work that are made no less valid by not being heavy drama.  Let me tell you, I hate Iago--the one from "Othello", not "Aladdin".  The one from "Aladdin" is just an annoyance and a comic foil.  Both stories are entertaining, though.  So is "Fight Club" and "Joe versus the Volcano" and "If You Give a Moose a Muffin" and so many other varied treats on film and in print.  I'm rather glad to not have to do without them.

I recently found myself enjoying, you guessed it, "Josie and the Pussycats".  You knew I'd get around to it.  Anyway, I'm not talking about the Archie comic book or even the Saturday morning cartoon it inspired (although to be fair, even though the characters originated in the comic, it was the greedy desire to duplicate the musical success of The Archies' hit song "Sugar, Sugar" that pushed the birth of the musically themed cartoon).  I'm also not talking about the cartoon's catchy theme song, though that would be a fair guess because I can still sing it all these decades later, and I'm not talking about the rocking musical soundtrack that went gold even though its movie didn't enjoy similar box-office success.  Yes, we've hit it!  I'm talking about the movie.

Yes, I like that movie.  It's not even one of those secret shame things that I grudgingly admit and say, "I don't know why I like it.  I just do."  I like the music and the script and the performances and (once I found out that there was a secret, mad science conspiracy plot element run by a sneaky, crazy villain) I loved the story.  The biggest problem I'd originally had with it was that I didn't know enough about it.  All I heard about it at first was that it was a film about a small-town girl-band that went on to big-city success.  Well that was a failure, I thought, if they didn't have some sort of adventure to fall into and a villainous plot to foil.  I was a watcher of the show as a child and I loved the goofiness of this pop band striving for fame that kept stumbling into spy plots and mad scientist schemes.  Maybe it was a Monkees-thing.  I liked The Monkees show, too.

Still, the cartoon was impressive, managing to have only sixteen episodes and run on ABC, CBS and NBC (all three major networks in that primitive pre-cable era when there were only three national TV networks) for six years.  Well, alright, one of those seasons was sixteen episodes of "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space" but it was basically the same show.  It was the earthbound version that got all the rerun mileage and sticks in the memory.  Thank goodness for cable's movie channels, otherwise who knows how long it would've taken me to give the movie a chance.

"Josie and the Pussycats" isn't something you'd ever expect to get an Oscar nomination, but I'd watch it over a half-dozen Academy picks any day.  It's fun.  It wasn't taken too seriously, but it was very well done.  It was even well-adapted from its source material.  What didn't I like about it?  Maybe that it didn't do better box office, so there was no sequel, but that's about it.  Like I said, it ain't Shakespeare, but not everything needs to be.  It makes me happy and that's plenty.  How many Shakespeare works have a gold album soundtrack that's good for dancing?  Who's a rock star?

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