Welcome to the Dollhouse

Welcome to the Dollhouse

4.2 4
Director: Todd Solondz

Cast: Heather Matarazzo, Daria Kalinina, Matthew Faber

     
 

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Twelve-year-old Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo) is perhaps the most put-upon adolescent in film history in Todd Solondz's bitterly hilarious black comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse. Dawn is bright but awkward, both physically and socially, and is appallingly unpopular among her peers, to whom she's better known as "Wienerdog." Possessing little charm or grace andSee more details below

Overview

Twelve-year-old Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo) is perhaps the most put-upon adolescent in film history in Todd Solondz's bitterly hilarious black comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse. Dawn is bright but awkward, both physically and socially, and is appallingly unpopular among her peers, to whom she's better known as "Wienerdog." Possessing little charm or grace and perhaps the most misguided fashion sense of her generation, Dawn is not an easy girl to like and practically no one seems interested in making the effort. If life is tough for Dawn at school, it's hardly any better at home. While her folks dote on her gratingly cute younger sister Missy (Daria Kalinina) and look with pride to her bookish older brother Mark (Matthew Faber), Dawn is either ignored or treated as an annoyance. Dawn has developed a crush on Steve (Eric Mabius), the hunky guitarist Mark has drafted into his rock band (significantly, Mark is less interested in making cool noise or unloading teenage angst than in having another extracurricular activity to put on his college applications); Steve is polite but obviously not interested in her. However, Dawn has attracted the attention of a boy at school -- Brandon (Brendan Sexton), a mean-spirited junior thug whose idea of a good time is threatening Dawn with rape. A painfully accurate account of life in junior high (what Matt Groening called "the lowest pit of hell"), Welcome to the Dollhouse is also very funny, but writer and director Todd Solondz never lets the film's humor dilute the agony of its leading character; anyone who has ever been 12 years old will doubtless laugh at Dawn while uncomfortably recalling the horror of their own preteen years.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Welcome to the Dollhouse is one of the most hilariously scathing depictions of preteen angst on film, and it catapulted its young writer-director, Todd Solondz, into the indie spotlight. Heather Matarazzo gives a knock-out performance as the film's heroine, Dawn Weiner. Angry, vulnerable and desperately looking for love, the bespectacled Dawn is a supremely geeky outcast and the victim of an endless stream of attacks. These come from her schoolmates who torture her mercilessly in the hallways between classes (her nickname is Wiener Dog) and her insensitive parents, who obviously favor Dawn's petite and adorable little sister -- a demon in a tutu whose perfection is a constant torment to Dawn. Solondz (who went on to direct the controversial Happiness) is a master at deadpan suburban anomie; his tacky middle-class environments are as ugly and ridiculous as his characters and their behavior. Anyone who has suffered the slings and arrows of preadolescence will identify with equal measures of horror and laughter.
All Movie Guide
One of the most honest films ever made about adolescence, Todd Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse is a brutal, caustically hilarious ode to the seventh ring of hell that is the seventh grade. Solondz approaches his material as a survivor: in the character of Dawn Wiener, it is easy to see the director himself, the ostracized geek used as a bottom rung by his peers as they climbed the social ladder. But rather than use his position behind the camera to craft a redemptive tale of a spunky outcast who gets revenge on her tormenters, Solondz is more interested in bleak, mundane reality. Dawn (played to perfection by Heather Matarazzo) doesn't possess the subversive intelligence or creative inclinations that usually endear social misfits to an audience; if you removed her thick glasses, there wouldn't be a beautiful swan hiding underneath, just an awkward girl who can't see. Most tellingly, Dawn doesn't want revenge on her tormenters: she wants to be accepted by them. More than anything else, junior high is about survival. If Dawn can make it to the eighth grade, she's one year closer to escape; and, in the pockmarked scheme of puberty, escape is about all you can hope for.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/09/1997
UPC:
0043396825635
Original Release:
1995
Rating:
R
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Heather Matarazzo Dawn Wiener
Daria Kalinina Missy Wiener
Matthew Faber Mark Wiener
Angela Pietropinto Mrs. Wiener
Bill Buell Mr. Wiener
Eric Mabius Steve Rodgers
Brendan Sexton Brandon McCarthy
Victoria Davis Lolita
Will Lyman Mr. Edwards
Rica Martens Mrs. Grissom
Stacey Moseley Mary Ellen Moriarty
Christina Vidal Cynthia

Technical Credits
Todd Solondz Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Susan Block Production Designer
Chad Braden Asst. Director
Avery S. Brandon Set Decoration/Design
Randy Drummond Cinematographer
Ann Goulder Casting
Jason Kliot Associate Producer
Alan Oxman Editor
Dan Partland Co-producer
Ted Skillman Co-producer
Lori Solondz Art Director
Gabor Szitanyi Cinematographer
Melissa Toth Costumes/Costume Designer
Joana Vicente Associate Producer
Jill Wisoff Score Composer
Alex Wolfe Sound/Sound Designer

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