Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog
Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog 2008
This may seem an odd choice to review, it’s a musical, the main character is a villain, it was made to appear on the internet, and it’s only 42 minutes long. It actually seems much more like a choice for a Superhero Shorts. But it’s become such a phenomenon that I had to give it it’s own review. It was made during the 2008 writer’s strike over a very short period of time and yet it somehow managed to become this incredibly popular thing that really helped pave the way for all of the internet media we have today. I mean, there’s lots of people that actually make a living from revenue earned from their web series and videos that they post on YouTube. I won’t go so far as to say that Dr. Horrible made all that happen, but it did help prove that it could happen. When you look at it now, it can be hard to see why it was so popular, it was a musical, it was about a villain created for this short, none of the stars were very big names, and it was going to be released for free on the internet. But one person was able to make it a success: Joss Whedon. His talent and his online following helped make it what it is today. I’ve watched it over a dozen times, and I love it every time.
I can’t talk about this movie without talking about the music. I mean, it is a musical. There are so many songs, and almost all of them stick in my head. I enjoyed Buffy’s musical episode, it wasn’t my favorite episode of the show, but I did enjoy it. I think Joss and his cowriters learned a lot from working on that and used it to make Dr. Horrible that much better. From the very first song, Neil Patrick Harris’s voice carries the plot of the movie, but it’s also a great song in its own right. I was singing Brand New Day for weeks when I first saw the movie. So They Say was a totally fun way to start the third act, and Slipping is a touching way to end the whole thing, especially the final line.
Neil Patrick Harris is really the best part of the whole show, he gives life to both the grandiose and ideological, yet slightly skewed Dr. Horrible as well as his shy and awkward side when he’s merely Billy. It also helps that he has an amazing singing voice. Nathan Fillion is also a total blast as Captain Hammer, giving some of the best one-liners in the movie like the ever quotable “the hammer is my penis”. Some people say that Felicia Day is the weak point in the movie, but I disagree, I enjoy her every bit as much as the other two guys, and she has just as much singing chops to go along with it.
Aside from the singing, there’s also the whole blog concept in the movie which is an interesting choice to help give the needed exposition without being too obtrusive with it. It also helps with some of the jokes like when he’s reading his viewer mail, and when he realizes the police and Captain Hammer both watch his blog, or technically vlog as it would be called now. The supervillain plot of the movie is also quite unique in itself, aside from Megamind I can’t really think of any movie where the main focus is on the villain instead of the hero side of an archnemesis pair. There have been plenty of movies that focus on a villain, but not when it comes to the world of superheroes. Instead of doing heroic acts in order to become a real superhero, he’s doing villainous acts in order to join the Evil League of Evil led by Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin. Of course, the it’s really a sort of star-crossed lovers story between Penny and Billy. It’s quite impressive how many different concepts fit into such a small timeframe, from the musical, to the superhero/supervillain angle, to the love story, and it all really works out quite well from my perspective.
But of course, they couldn’t leave all that groundbreaking work for just the feature itself, when it came to the DVD release, they had to one-up themselves by writing and performing Commentary! The Musical, which is exactly what it sounds like, a musical version of a commentary. It has all sorts of funny common commentary occurrences turned into songs, like when Nathan Fillion sings about how he’s better than Neil, or when Harris sings about playing a game on his phone. Or when the one Asian woman in the movie sings about how there’s nobody Asian in movies. If you haven’t watched the movie with the additional musical commentary, then go do it now, it’s really another completely different experience.
It may not be a typical love story, a typical superhero movie, a typical musical, but it really is something different and special. It showed that Joss Whedon has an avid fanbase, and that he really knows his craft. It was done with little money, little time, and yet it managed to become something pretty fantastic. If you haven’t seen it before, it really is worth checking out, especially if you enjoy Joss Whedon’s work and humor. Next time I think I’ll be checking out one or two more non-traditional superhero movies before starting Nolan’s Batman trilogy. As much as I’m looking forward to the Dark Knight Rises, I’m still not up to braving the opening weekend box office. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.