If a flick doesn’t have the highest aspirations for uniqueness, I suppose it’s best to simply judge it as is. Very little about Kurt Voss’ "Down and Out with the Dolls" could be accurately classified as ‘new’ or ‘original’ but it is what it is: a fairly endearing and generally interesting tale of an aspiring ‘girl band’, the inevitable pitfalls of the grass-roots music scene, and the power of professional loyalty…or lack thereof.What it lacks in overall newness, Dolls kinda makes up for in spunk and enthusiasm. The setting is Portland and the Paper Dolls are just starting to make a little noise on the local music scene. Using another local band who ‘got their break’ as inspiration, the Dolls suffer and struggle through the varied problems inherent in their fickle industry: shady mangers, self-important divas, interpersonal friction and (of course) the simple need for profitability. (Tough to be in a rock band when you have a minimum wage job at a local record store.)
Zoe Poledouris is our resident bitch, the veteran of several failed bands (which she mentions as if it’s a badge of honor) and the gal recruited to headline the floundering band. To say she helps the band take off at the expense of her obnoxious and hateful attitude would be a stellar understatement. (Some may think the actress goes 5 steps too deep into her ‘hateful witch’ closet, but I love watching over-the-top villains so Zoe’s fine by me.) Much of the backstage drama is focused on who’s shtupping who and how pissed off so-and-so is about it. You know, like in real life.
Some of the performances are spot-on, some a bit overbaked, and one in particular manages to shine brightly (Motorhead’s Lemmy in a humorously oddball appearance). Sure, much of Down and Out with the Dolls is technically sloppy and occasionally amateurish, but heck: the flick probably cost about 1/10th of Spider-Man’s catering budget. Taken at face-value and with no massive expectations, Dolls isn’t a half-bad little indie flick.Probably not worthy of a massive stampede to your local video store, but certainly worthy of a 90-minute window one boring Wednesday night.