Movie Reviews

Dollhouse - Review

The movie fully titled: 'The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture', explores the cultural obsession with fame and mocks the lengths to achieve it.


AUGUST 3rd, 2020

RATING:

Director: Nicole Brending | Cert: TBC | Runtime: 1h 15m

© TriCoast/Rock Salt Releasing

W

hen Trey Parker’s puppet comedy Team America: World Police hit theatres in 2004, many commented on how brutally satirical the movie was – even for the creator of South Park. Since then, rarely has a film matched or gone beyond the boundaries that even Parker dared push beyond – until Dollhouse.

Directed, written and shot by Nicole Brending, who also performed a vast majority of the character voices, Dollhouse tells the wacky, bizarre and greatly problematic life of teen sensation Junie Spoons, through the interviews of celebrity gossips, obsessive fans, music executives, former lovers and family. Think Vh1’s Behind The Music, but unhinged.

© TriCoast/Rock Salt Releasing


Spoons quickly becomes an amalgamation of pop-culture’s most famous celebrity downfalls and transformation clichés. There is the transition from a wholesome child star, who through the relationship with one of her co-stars, releases a hyper-sexualised hit single whilst still a teenager. A toxic and obsessive mother, drug addiction and the exploration of a lesbian relationship is thrown into the mix, and the “what feels far-fetched, yet isn’t” kidnap by the “Siamese Revolution Militia” is also present just for good measure. Dollhouse effectively places Junie Spoons as the Britney Spears’, Whitney Houston’s, Lindsey Lohan’s, Patty Hearst’s of the world, and with the inclusion of a pink Bronco car chase, OJ Simpson receives a nod too.

Throughout the movie, you are consistently reminded that Dollhouse takes no prisoners. It is unforgiving, pulls no punches and rips apart the American culture of obsessive celebrity. The often self-indulgent nature of fame, and the lengths in which celebrities go to either achieve or maintain it, is viciously offered up without fear or favour. From an “accidental” leaked sex tape, to Junie shaving her head, no controversial stone is left unturned.



Whilst the audacity and certain subject matters from the movie will most likely offend some – such is the result of modern-day satire – Dollhouse is frighteningly close to reality. Yes, the characters are doll set against the backdrop of model set pieces – all constructed by Brending – but the social commentary of the movie is extremely current. Across the decades we have watched young, impressionable stars founder under the pressure of perfection and the industry which sees them as no more than a product which sells well. Dollhouse places that tragic outlook under the microscope – albeit one without the media trained PR twisting the narrative and lashings of comedy.

Ultimately, when you strip away the dolls, the outlandish comedy and undiluted exaggeration, Dollhouse presents a stark look at the celebrity world for young women. It highlights the extreme fetishization placed on teenage girls within the media and the price paid for fame, fortune and infamy. In its essence, the movie is a damning indictment of American popular culture and the lengths some will go to achieve perfection. Through the scorning, unforgiving spectrum of satire, Dollhouse punctures that illusive and impressionable bubble of vanity and fame – and surely no one can complain about that.

© TriCoast/Rock Salt Releasing


It would be fair to say that the movie won’t be to everyone’s taste. For some, the vulgarity and in-your-face visuals will be too much. Yet for those whose comedy stylings is instilled within the realms of South Park and Team America: World Police Dollhouse will leave you laughing out loud.


Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity From American Popular Culture (2019) Written and Directed by Nicole Brending. Starring Nicole Brending, Sydney Bonar, Aneikit Bonnel, Erik Hoover, Peter Ooley.

‘Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture’ will be released onto various digital platforms on August 11th, 2020 (Amazon, inDemand, FlixFling, Fandango, Vimeo on Demand).

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