Down and Out with The Dolls

dir. Voss

Opens Fri March 21

Hollywood Theater

Down and Out with The Dolls deserves a little of your scrutiny. The latest rock-and-roll adventure from Kyrt Voss spins the familiar tale of a chick band (The Paper Dolls) trying to register on Portland's music radar. Everything about it hollers "Portland! Portland!" So it should be of concern to you, as it could end up serving as your letter of introduction to future rock circles.

It's okay on accuracy, showing how everyone's in a band, everyone lives in Northeast communal housing situations, and everyone rides bikes. What's inaccurate is that Fellini/Satyricon is not the only bar/club place to be, and the music scene is not that bad!! To have a shitty band depicted as soaring out of the Portland scene really hurts, deep down. It might be a tighter little time capsule and cult film if the music and the "I just wanna rock!" statements weren't so distracting and embarrassing. Because the actors keep such straight faces throughout, it's hard to tell whether they're actually just kidding. One can hope.

The bad tunes are kind of a surprise, considering that the cast is largely comprised of musicians, and even features Lemmy living in the Dolls' closet. "Jenny Genocide" from the Viles plays Alcoholly, and is the most fun; a chronically trashed, chain-smoking pariah who fishes cigarette butts out of half-finished beers so she can make herself a breakfast booze shake the morning after a party.

Unfortunately, much of the plot is taken up by Kali, the swooning writer and guitarist of the Dolls, whose insufferably immature songs entice the audience about as little as the poor sap she's trying to seduce. Zoë Poledouris is convincing as the Dolls' bitchy frontwoman and ambitious slut, and Kinnie Starr is likeable as the tough, pot-smoking drummer.

Overall, Dolls is consistently cheesy, but somewhat fun to watch. It's hard to care very much about the characters, especially with their apocalyptic threat of trudging their crappy sounds all the way to the top! And of course those irrelevant shots of the Hung Far Low sign are good for those hometown snapshot thrills.