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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Welcome to the Dollhouse': A Blistering, Darkly Comic Depiction of 90's-Era Juvenile Tribulations

Movie poster for the film Welcome to the Dollhouse starring Heather Matarazzo

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) is a blistering dark comedy that follows the trials and tribulations of Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo), a shy and unattractive 11-year old girl residing in Suburban New Jersey circa 1995.

Derided by her 7th grade classmates while neglected by her family members, Dawn finds solace in her lone friendship with Ralphy (Dimitri DeFresco), an effeminate neighbor boy. After being threatened violently by abusive bully Brandon (Brendan Sexton III), Dawn falls into a twisted relationship with the reckless brute while further pining in vain for her brother’s handsome bandmate, Steve Rodgers (Eric Mabius). As her parents' anniversary celebration approaches, Dawn hatches a plan to profess her love to Steve at the party, though her fate is inextricably tied to that of her young sister Missy (Daria Kalinina) whose precocious nature provokes and disgusts Dawn immensely.

Written and directed by Todd Solondz (Happiness, Storytelling), Welcome to the Dollhouse serves as a darkly comical tale of a sad young girl unable to find any degree of gratification in her life—yet it's delivered in such a outlandish manner that the entire experience becomes a laugh-out-loud depiction of undue degradation and comic misadventure. Unique and wickedly subversive, it's a dark gem of 90's-era cinema.


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