Welcome to the Dollhouse – 4 out of 5
The 1995 comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse is one of those comedies that are funny for all the wrong reasons. Everything that happens in this film is deeply disturbing and mildly uncomfortable in any other context but the film portrays it in a way where it’s easy to laugh at…and you’ll feel bad for laughing if you think about it too much.
|Like she's doing right now...or she's trying to set that man on fire|
with her thoughts, I don't know.
Welcome to the Dollhouse tells the story of Dawn Weiner (Heather Matarazzo) (and those who laughed at "weiner," thank you, my job is now complete), a middle school student who’s unpopular and has to deal with the usual troubles of not just attending school but dealing with bullying from various other students who attack her for her less than appealing appearance, a brainiac brother, and inattentive parents who lavish more love on her younger sister than anyone else. Things get a little more complicated for Dawn as she falls in love with Steve Rogers (not that Steve Rogers); the popular guy in town who joins his brother’s band and a very odd and disturbing courting ritual from the school’s bully; Brandon (Brendan Sexton III).
|This band would later be cited by Nickelback as their inspiration.|
They heard them and said, "Yeah, we can be worse."
There’s no way someone can tell me that the film Napoleon Dynamite was not partially inspired by this film. While the movies don’t share any common elements within their respected stories or characters the film’s quirky appearance and the fact they involve an eccentric and unpopular protagonist definitely seems to be something the two films share. Napoleon Dynamite went a little sillier than Dollhouse and the subject matter is a little heavier.
|There better be tater tots on that tray because I'm flippin' starving.|
I saw this movie for the first time last year and decided to watch it again for my blog. The movie is honestly really entertaining but, like I said at the beginning, everything about this comedy should not be funny. Dawn Weiner’s torture and isolation is depressing on paper but with the presentation the film is given, the story of Dawn is treated in a way that makes the events feel other-worldly and fantastic.
|His Andrew Dice Clay impression is awful.|
The movie is saturated in eccentricities to the point the events in the film feel alien but are familiar enough that you can relate to them. This keeps the film from becoming too much of a drama and is capable of making the horrible things that occur to Dawn from being real. Because, honestly, nearly all the traumatic events Dawn goes through (one including a kid in her school desiring to rape her) are enough to be episodes of Law & Order if Dawn had decided to snap and eliminate those who have wronged her.
|Usually it's the computer geek trying to elimate those who have done some wronging.|
Furthermore, the exploitations of Dawn Weiner wouldn’t work if Heather Matarazzo didn’t perform her duty well. Matarazzo really makes Dawn eccentric and strange and keeps her character from becoming too real when involved in situations like being bullied or parents who clearly don’t even realize she’s there until they see a stranger in their house.
Welcome to the Dollhouse is not a laugh riot of a film. The movie isn’t going to keep you rolling the entire time but the film is very funny…it’s just funny in a very uncomfortable way. Every second of this movie is capable of making you squeamish as you watch this poor girl be emotionally abusive left and right. Her teachers disrespect her, her family doesn’t give two shits about her (and I’m not 100% if they even give one) and the men in her life are all capable of leaving scars on the character that will almost certainly make her decide to swear off men (except a sequel that was later produced proves that theory is incorrect). There’s enough going on in this story where one can relate to one or more of the troubles Dawn goes through but it is still out there enough where it doesn’t hit home too hard and you’re able to laugh at the misadventures of Dawn Weiner…and then feel bad for laughing because what she went through would be very traumatic in real life...but hey, her name is Weiner!