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Welcome to the Dollhouse 1996
Description: An unattractive 7th grader struggles to cope with suburban life as the middle kid with un-attentive parents and bullies at school.
Released: 24 May 1996 Director: Todd Solondz Writers: Todd Solondz Actors: Heather Matarazzo, Victoria Davis, Christina Brucato, Christina Vidal Genres: Comedy, Drama
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See Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995 on youtube.

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Welcome to the Dollhouse Reviews:

Grimly convincing portrayal of life in junior high school for the unpopular. If you aren't blown away by how realistic this is then you weren't unpopular enough: this is the true deal. This film strips away the rosy patina of nostalgia that covers most another movies that portray the grim nature of childhood. I admire the movie for avoiding the common trap of making the lead an innocent victim. Heather is, when the occasion arises, just as cruel as anyone else in the film. The film doesn't create Heather a child, but instead makes her a confused human being full of conflicting emotions such as hatred, lust, anguish and guilt.I think to understand this film though, you need to realize that you are viewing everything from Heather's mission of view. Teachers and parents are ridiculously unfair, classmates are alarmingly sadistic, and you should mission at some action and say, oh, I doubt that would happen, but there's a powerful emotional truth; this is what it feels like to be an unhappy child. When I watch films about unpopular kids, I am everytime disappointed because their lives are better than mine was, and this is the first film I should mission to and say, if you wish to see what I was dealing with in Junior High, watch Dollhouse. But while I everytime wanted a film that shows the unvarnished truth, it is really hard to watch. Although if you can create it through the first half hour it gets just a shade less horrific. And it does have a quirky sense of humor that lightens it some. I avoided this film for years because I was scared it would be too painful, and a mate told no, it's not that painful, and she was sort of right and sort of wrong. But it's definitely worth seeing.


"Welcome to the Dollhouse" was the introduction of an necessary voice in the American cinema. Todd Solondz's incisive study of a suburban family is one of the greatest indie movies of the last decade. Having seen it in its theatrical release, we had the occasion recently to take a fresh look at it. Mr. Solondz has created a picture of what cruelty does to a child, and how prevalent it is everywhere.When we first meet the Wieners, living in suburban Fresh Jersey, they appear to be the ideal family. Both parents, on the surface, look normal, but in watching them closely we come to the conclusion they are not. Some couples are not meant to be parents and the Wieners, obviously, while supportive of the older son, Mark, and the pretty younger daughter, Missy, turn a blind eye toward Dawn, their middle daughter who is going through a difficult time as she begins junior high school.Not only is Dawn an unhappy girl, but she is the object of cruelty in the hands of the another students, both in her class, and in her school, in general. We watch as Brandon, the punkish boy, starts to taunt Dawn in his own sadistic way. Another women come right out and ask Dawn whether she is a lesbian. There's also other woman that terrorizes her when both meet in the school bathroom. Each time Dawn tries to rebel, it turns out in disaster. Her school teacher doesn't even see anything wrong with Dawn, who is obviously affected by all she is experiencing at this crucial moment.Dawn hits a nerve with Brandon when she calls him a retard. Tiny does she know his own brother is mentally challenged. Usually in the situation of bullies like Brandon, they are acting up their frustrations by taking it on others they perceive as weaker, which is why he thinks he can do anything to Dawn because she will never do anything to him.In a stage that gives cruelty a fresh name, we watch as the Wieners are having dinner one night. When Dawn contradicts something her mother has said, she is punished by not getting her dessert. We watch in total disbelief as the another Wieners start to eat and Dawn's slice of chocolate cake remains near her mother until Missy asks to share that piece with Mark.Dawn only has a friend. The young man who shares her interests in hanging out in the dollhouse in the Wiener's backyard. When the hunky Steve Rogers joins Mark's band, Dawn discovers an irresistible attraction toward this loser. Dawn turns vs her only mate and will call him names that we all realize is her own method to deal with emotions she has no control on. Instead of finding happiness among her peers, Dawn only encounters scorn and ridicule.In Heather Matarazzo, the director found a young talent to give life to Dawn Wiener. Ms. Matarazzo has a peculiar type of beauty, but she is made to wear horrible clothes to capture the essence of this sad young teen. Ms. Matarazzo under the guidance of Mr. Solondz makes an appealing Dawn. This young actress gave her hero a range of emotions that even older, and more accomplished, actress wouldn't have given to this lost soul.The rest of the cast is perfect. Brendan Sexton plays Brendan, the man from a terrible and broken home that has to deal with the blow life has given him. Angela Pietropinto as Mrs. Wiener is seen as the mother from hell. Mattew Faber and Daria Kalinina enjoy Dawn's siblings.This was a movie that place Todd Solondz on the map. As he has shown with soon films, he is a voice to be reckoned with in the independent cinema.


This is a shining example of the potential of independent cinema. More specifically, American independent cinema. If you place together nearly each Hollywood film dealing with early adolescence, their combined weight in truth would not equal what we see in this one film. For some reason, it seems that most screenwriters and directors seem to look back on their youth with blinding nostalgia - painting the entire experience like it was some type of carefree paradise. One full of prank playing, football games, pep rallies, getting laid, wild parties and having an all-around nice time. What makes this film so strong and so special is that it never shies away from being honest, even when it gets really nasty. As you are reading this, children all over globe are being ignored, taunted, degraded, pushed around, abused... And they are doing anything to test escape it. Running away, turning to drugs, committing suicide...WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE basically features the life of a tween social outcast and middle kid called Dawn Weiner (Heather Matazzaro). For Dawn, each day is a struggle for both survival and distraction from her 'real life'... She is degraded on a everyday basis by her peers at school who refer to her as either "lesbo" or "weiner dog," is receiving sexual threats from fellow outcast Brandon (Brendan Sexton III) and has to deal with a finished lack of love and nurturing from her frustratingly inept parents, who don't test to hide the fact that they prefer her brainy older brother and ballerina younger sister to her.Part of the genius of this movie is that, despite the extremely grim topics matter, it is also blisteringly funny. You will laugh and you will wince... and often at the same time. The acting (largely from a group of unknowns) is spot-on, the writing is perfect and the suburban sets are appropriately gaudy.Interestingly, I've noticed skimming through another reviews and on the message board, that those who are/were near the bottom social ring in middle and high school seem to search more to grab on to here and much more emotional impact. Many of the haters seem to think this is wholly fabricated... possibly because they didn't have to deal with the the abuse, the whispering, the daily torment that many others have to endure. Or possibly because they place someone else through it.



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