A wise comic once told me ‘music is magic,’ and Archie Comics’ in-house band Josie & The Pussycats have been casting a spell on people for over forty years. The cat-suited cavalcade of teenage hijinx and the aura of rockstardom is a potent mix, but the lackluster 2001 film torpedoed the franchise for years. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t life left in the girls, and that the new generation of young kids wouldn’t eat it up.
Although Josie & The Pussycats’comic book origins might be overlooked by most, this Dan DeCarlo creation has a unique pedigree as it was created at the same time DeCarlo was doing the short-lived Willie Lumpkin newspaper strip with Stan Lee. Premiering in 1962, the pop-rockers got their big shot after appearing in the late 60s Saturday morning cartoonThe Archie Show. The 2001 live-action film did the girls no favors despite a talented cast, but that doesn’t mean Josie, Melody and Valerie are one-hit wonders.
To make this work, I’d bring the girls as close to full circle as I could by ditching their live-action aspirations and returning to animation – modern-day animation. Think of it less like Glee and more akin to That Thing You Do! Complete with a in-house band writing and performing all the songs, to be sung by the actual actresses behind the roles. Using modern CGI animation, catchy music and a sturdy and believable story, the pussycats could work.
The story? Simple. The band is just breaking out of their garage band roots when the agent Alexander Cabot III takes notice in the band – and Josie in particular. The band goes on the road to fame playing shows all over the country; it’s a rock n’ roll movie told in CGI animation, and stress on the band from outside and within threatens to pull the band apart.
To make this concept work as a animated feature, I’d turn to long-time PIXAR artist Ronnie Del Carmen. Carmen won an award as story supervisor for Up!, and worked on a number of other films including WALL-E, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo as well as other TV gems like Freakazoid! And Batman: The Animated Series. He’s no stranger to comics as well, doing both independent comics through his company Paper Biscuit as well as some award-winning Batman work for DC a few years back. Although he’s never directed a feature film before, I imagine his talent and hunger to take it to the next level could fuel an inspired and imaginative take on Josie & the girls.
Josie / Kat Dennings: To make Josie stand out, it needs a heavy dose of personality and if anyone’s seen Thor then they know Kat Dennings can deliver. She has a memorable voice to boot and some of her own rockstar-ish antics off screen, and could easily front a movie – and a fictional band.
Melody / Sarah Wright: Although far from a household name, Wright got my attention in last year’s canceled TV series Mad Love and I believe she could fill out the role of Melody with style and sexiness. Anything’s better than Tara Reid, right?
Valerie / Megan Good: Look no further than Stomp The Yard star Megan Good to tune into the head-strong and opinionated character of Valerie. Good’s yet to breakthrough to mainstream movie parts, but she has the personality and the acting chops and Josie & The Pussycats would do well to take advantage of that.
Alan M. / Matt Dallas: The former lead of Kyle XY is carving out a niche for movie-goers that won’t be seen until next year when he starts alongside Val Kilmer as Bat Masterson in The First Ride of Wyatt Earp, but Dallas has the screen presence and the skills to portray Alan M. more than just eye candy but in a dynamic role. And while in the comics he might be blond, Matt Dallas has the skills to overcome that – or if nothing else, get some hair dye.
Alexander Cabot III / David Tennant: For this, I’d bring in the scene-eating David Tennant; the jury’s still out on how he does in his against-type role in the upcoming Fright Night remake, but voicing Alexander would be right up Tenant’s alley.