Monday, August 23, 2004

Welcome to the Dollhouse 

Another of our weekend Netflix rentals was Welcome to the Dollhouse, Heather Matarazzo's 1995 breakout movie. This film is described as a dark comedy, but the emphasis is definitely more on the dark and less on the comedy. But they're consistent, the comedy is indeed dark as well.

Matarazzo plays 7th grader Dawn Wiener, who is the focus of all the middle school taunting, bullying and humilation that her classmates can dish out. Her home life is also an adolescent nightmare, with an overbearing mother, a spineless father, an overachieving older brother and a cute-as-pie, ballet dancing little sister. Eric Mabius of The L Word makes an appearance as the high school boy of Dawn's dreams. Glad he's no longer sporting the mullet.

Everyone plays their roles well, and Matarazzo is excellent, but I just found this movie so stressful. I've read that the audience response varies depending on the middle school/junior high experience of the viewer. Personally, I'm in the "I was Dawn" camp. The Girl was not. I found many of the scenes upsetting and disturbing, she was kind of bored. I laughed at the moments of dark humor, she was kind of bored. Neither of us was very satisfied with the ending, which just sort of, well, ended.

If you're looking for a Revenge of the Nerds or Real Genius kind of story where the underdog emerges victorious (as Dawn does during her periodic fantasies), don't look for it here. If you're looking to relive your adolescent torment, or if you're having trouble describing it to your friends who didn't suffer the same fate in their tween and teen years, this would be the one to get.

Movie connection trivia: Before Heather Matarazzo played Dawn in Welcome to the Dollhouse, she was in The Adventures of Pete & Pete, as was Michelle Trachtenberg, who went on to play a different kind of Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Amazon links:

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:38 AM