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Friday, Oct. 25, 11 p.m.
JCC Theater, $9
Remember when your love life felt earth-shatteringly dramatic enough to warrant 3 a.m. phone call updates to your best friend, to cause scenes in restaurants over and to write mournful, woe-is-me songs about? Down and Out with the Dolls conveys this sentiment through the antics of an all-girl rock band in — where else? — the Portland ‘burbs. The film follows the band through its rise and inevitable fall to intra-group conflict as they attempt to all live together in the same house.
Like Kevin Smith’s Clerks, the somewhat amateurish acting and directing of Dolls actually makes the film more charming and accessible, not less. Anyone who’s ever been in a high school punk band, made a student film or DJ’d at a public access radio station should appreciate the do-it-yourself feel of this movie, and recognize that it matches the content perfectly.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with good acting, and in this respect, Dolls is somewhat spotty. The performances basically come across as a bunch of young actors and actresses having a really good time — nothing that’ll make the Academy swoon, but fun to watch and wax nostalgic over, nevertheless. In fact, there are some hilarious aspects that could only come from a B-list film, such as the homeless guy who one of the band members brings home to live in their walk-in closet and who eventually just becomes a permanent resident of the house. Ahh, the salad days.
The plot jumps around a bit, and a few scenes rely pretty much solely on the word "fuck" for dialogue. But the melodrama — half sarcasm, half genuine — fairly accurately reflects how most of us felt about life when we were the characters’ ages, and that makes the film worthwhile, and more authentic than any Hollywood teen flick could ever be. — WD