Back in 2008 there was a little problem in Hollywood; namely the Writers Guild of America was on strike, thus halting the majority of film and television productions. During this lull Joss Whedon decided to write, direct and fund a project that became Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a three part web series/movie that allowed him to work in the medium he loved without breaking the terms of the strike. The entire movie/show was released online and became wildly popular. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day, the movie won multiple awards, including a People’s Choice Award for favorite online sensation. Whedon did something that had never been done before, released a professional grade mini-series on a shoe string budget and released it exclusively online.
The film follows Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), an aspiring super villain, as he attempts to prove his worth to the “Evil League of Evil”. His arch Nemesis, Captain Hammer (Fillion), is a self inflated egotistical imbecile. We learn through Dr. Horrible’s video blog that he loves a girl that he frequently sees at the laundromat. When this girl, Penny (Felicia Day), begins dating Captain Hammer, Dr. Horrible becomes even more determined to join the Evil League of Evil in a misguided attempt to impress her.
The low budget is evident throughout the movie, but ads far more to it’s value than it subtracts. As is the case in much of Whedon’s work the characters and the jokes are very tongue in cheek, almost to a fault. Any amount of cheesiness (intended or otherwise) is completely forgivable due to how well each of the three main characters portray their parts. The music is poppy and fun and the story is quirky in that it takes the sympathetic side of the villain.
Whedon’s signature style of storytelling glares through the entirety of the project. Witty dialogue and events that the audience “needs not wants” show us that even in something as humorous as Dr. Horrible there are elements of storytelling that should not be ignored. This project is just about as opposite as you can get to his more recent film The Avengers, however he maintains his professional love for movies. It’s a lovingly crafted piece of film history that was shown the same level of any large scale blockbuster. If you have Netflix I believe it is currently available for streaming and well worth your time to watch.