Skip to content

December 17, 2010

5

Welcome to the Dollhouse

by Franz Patrick


Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)
★★★★ / ★★★★

Dawn (Heather Matarazzo) was a twelve-year-old in junior high school who everybody made fun of. People labeled her with names like “Weinerdog” or “lesbian” but she had no choice but to simply glare through her spectacles. Even the bullied bullied her which made her situation that much sadder and much more relatable. Her family was not very nice to her nor did they make an effort to. She only felt safe either by herself, in her clubhouse, or when she pined over an older boy (Eric Mabius) in her brother’s band. But since this film was written and directed by Todd Solondz, it was far from sugary and not everyone learned a valuable lesson in the end. In fact, some of the characters ended up worse than when the movie started. I particularly despised Dawn’s mother because she was unashamed about favoring one child over another. The film was more concerned about delivering the dark humor when the lead character was faced with desperate situations, such as when one of the boys in her class (Brendan Sexton III) threatened her with rape. I thought Matarazzo was perfectly cast as the geek because she looked very vulnerable but at the same time she had knowing in her eyes–which made her borderline creepy, like the kind of person who was capable of sneaking up in our room in the middle of the night and stabbing us in our sleep. The movie’s X Factor that made it better than most movies about bullying was its balance between delivering the laugh-out-loud one-liners and embracing the pain of being made fun of just because one is different. I think the chocolate cake scene during a family dinner was a prime example of how daring and bold the picture was willing to be. It reminded me of Michael Lehmann’s “Heathers” but was set in middle school although certainly not as depraved. In the end, the movie made me think of my middle school years and I was thankful that I did not go through the humiliating things that Dawn went through. I would have been scarred for life. And for those couple of people I knew that did go through those painful things, in high school, they ended up dealing with having low self-esteem and despite the fact that they were smart, they failed to shine. “Welcome to the Dollhouse” was an undoubtedly fearless independent film. It was unafraid to show how sadistic and desperate some of the characters were but they were far from one-dimensional. We can all relate when it comes to defining happiness in terms of our place within our peers. Some of us grow out of it but others remain stuck in that phase and they fail realize that as long as they stay in it, happiness remains far from their reach.

About these ads
5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thomas Gatto
    Dec 18 2010

    I loved this one, mostly because I want to be a teacher and this really rings true for kids and their adolescent years. What did you make of the ending?

    Reply
    • Dec 23 2010

      The anthem scene or the when the sister went missing?

      When our little protagonist joined in, I felt kinda sad. When the sister went missing and how everybody responded, I thought it was hilarious! haha

      She should’ve ran away with what’s-his-face. Then come back after she’s been missed. =p

      Reply
  2. Another Solondz classic. As you mention, the fact that the bullying’s funny, yet believable, makes this one really stand out from an overcrowded genre. Really enjoy the garage band story, as I’ve been in one before and it’s so well observed.

    Not too hot on Solondz’s later films, but quite looking forward to catching Life During Wartime.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Welcome to the dollhouse | KiberMed

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 920 other followers