Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996)

First-time writer/director/producer Todd Solondz won Best Picture 
at the Sundance Film Festival with this cute, cutting, and very 
black comedy about a seventh-grade girl desperately trying to 
survive in Junior High Hell.  Newcomer Heather Matarazzo touches 
the heart as the tragic Dawn Weiner, huh huh huh, the bespectacled 
school outcast who is repeatedly dumped upon by her teachers, 
friends, and family.  Though nowhere near as funny as the rave 
reviews have suggested-- any episode of "The Simpsons" crackles 
with more knowing wit-- WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE still succeeds as 
both a character comedy and a social satire.  As in Larry Clark's 
KIDS, the story situations-- and the accompanying language-- are 
also brutally frank.  Pay attention to the psychology behind a 
young man's threat of sexual violence and Dawn's response to same.  
I'm tempted to label this movie as "anti-Disney" or, if you prefer, 
the antithesis of mainstream family fare.  However, as Mickey owns 
Mirimax, the corporate giant could well be the next home for Mr. 
Solondz and his remarkable talents.  (Rated "R"/93 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: June 23, 1996

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