Or as its full title goes: Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture.
So, here is a movie that is… Well, it is something, alright. It might be one of the more bizarre movies I’ve watched over the last year, and I’ve watched a lot of them.
Dollhouse is a puppet movie well within the sub-genres of feminism and mockumentaries, a highly agreeable combination. Dress a serious subject up in satire, and you have yourself an effective way to convey the message.
We follow a Behind the Music style documentary covering Junie Spoons’ life story. A tween idol, she goes through what many young females in her position have experienced. From a 24-hour marriage to sex tapes; paparazzi to a shaved head; bank heist to murder. Sure, it might go a bit over the top, but it is a satire after all.
The striking thing about the narrative is that it is never told by Spoons or even shown from her perspective. Telling the story through dolls is, if a bit on the nose, suiting in the sense that the artist is portrayed as a toy herself, one who repeatedly is taken advantage of.
As for the dolls, they are well puppeteered, and after a while, it is easy to forget that you’re not watching actual humans. The quality (and budget) is not up there with Team America, but it is impressive what this small movie has managed to do with what it’s got. The five-actor voice-over cast does a serviceable job, too.
There are things to like, then, but packing it all into the seventy-seven minute runtime makes for an exhausting watch. The message gets muddled in an excess of crude humor, and the result is neither fully entertaining nor erudite. In many ways, Dollhouse could have benefited from being in a shorter Robot Chicken-type format.
It’s not a home-run, Dollhouse, but there’s more than a glimmer of hope that writer/director/star Nicole Brending can move on to bigger and better things. Her next film, The Artist’s Wife (starring the great Lena Olin and Bruce Dern), is already creating some buzz.
Give Dollhouse a watch if the subject matter is your thing or if puppeteering fascinates you. Otherwise, the movie might be a bit much of an onslaught.
The movie will be available for streaming tomorrow, August 11th. This review was based on a provided screener.