Directed by Harry Elfont & Deborah Kaplan. Starring Rachel Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosaria Dawson, Alan Cumming and Parker Posey.

During the pre-release hype that accompanied 'Josie and the Pussycats', the powers that be were at pains to point out that Ms Cook (Josie), Reid (Melody) and Dawson (Val) had learned to play their instruments for their roles in the film. Having seen the finished product you have to say it's a pity that everyone didn't afford the same attention to detail with the script.

Cartoons have been abused and butchered at the hands of Hollywood studios and this sorry tale of rags to riches is another addition to the hall of shame. Based on a cherished 70's show (but one which meant little on this side of the pond) it follows girl trio The Pussycats as they go from demo tape unknowns to corporate clothes horses overnight.

When boy band Du Jour disappear mysteriously in their private jet, spineless A&R man Wyatt (Cumming) needs to dredge up another band pronto to keep maniacal label boss Fiona (Posey) happy. He chances upon Josie, Mel and Val while stuck at traffic lights, whisks them away and lets the stylists take over. But while the girls think they've cracked it little do they realise they're part of a nefarious government scheme to control youth culture with subliminal messages.

The first ten minutes are promising as Kaplan and Elfont go right for the nuts of the boy band market. In a segment which is essentially a very funny carbon copy of Blink 182's 'All The Small Things' video, Du Jour are seen at an airstrip performing their hit single 'Backdoor Lover' for dribbling suburban princesses. When Leigh Cook and Co appear however, the film heads straight for the bargain bin and refuses to come out for the next 80 minutes.

The idea was to make a cute, kitschy and catty look at the world of pop, but with a script which makes the average promo video look like the work of Ingmar Bergman, the result is one interminable set piece after another, all punctuated by atrocious songs and endless shots of Leigh Cook's eyes. Reid and Dawson have little to do except smile with Cumming and (above all) Posey letting themselves down with paycheck performances.

And while the film's message - that kids should make up their own minds instead of being at the mercy of corporations is prescient - the constant use of branded products in every scene makes you wonder who's having the last laugh.

About as fresh and fun as week-old kitty litter.

Harry Guerin