By Alec Horowitz
What a cruel and heartbreaking movie to watch. Though, what a refreshing realistic piece of work that honestly talks about how school was for so many of us. You won't find any romanticism about childhood or what it's like to go through school in this film. The 1995 debut film by Todd Solondz, “Welcome To The Dollhouse” is about one of the most realistic films ever made about school. The story is about a bullied 7th grade girl, her nerdy brother, her crush on an older guy who has a local band, and her parents who worship the ground her attractive younger sister walks on. Your more likely to find truth in this girl played by Heather Matarazzo than any of the usual clichés that often populate high school films. In a time when teenager movies focus on a teenager’s biggest problem of whether to have sex, “Welcome To The Dollhouse” stands out as a relatable and realistic film. Maybe it’s because it is an independent film that allows it’s main character, a lonely and troubled 7th grader named Dawn, to make us say to ourselves “Yeah, that was me as a teenager".
So many scenes in this film resonate with the truth about how cruel childhood can be. One scene that speaks volumes is a scene where Dawn is standing over her sister’s bed and she finds a hammer. She considers using the hammer on her sister, holding it over her head. Then she decides not to, and puts the hammer down to her side, and looks at her younger sister laying in her bed. A lesser movie would have had a moment where she says something clichéd about how she loves her sister deep down inside. Instead, she just looks at her sister and makes a statement of true feelings. “Your so lucky” she says. In another scene, Dawn asks her sister, who is named Missy, why she hates her. “Because you are ugly,” says Missy.
Dawn realizes she isn’t the only one with sibling problems. One of the kids who harasses Dawn in her school, goes so far as to say he’s going to “rape her at the end of the day.” Brandon brings Dawn out back the second day to the fences by the school, where he plans to “rape” her as he puts it. Instead he doesn’t do what she expects. He instead opens up to her about his brother, who he says is a retard, or as his brother is officially called, “mentally handicapped”.
Dawn than finds her sister is kidnapped and her parents pay even more attention to her sister than ever. She goes out, looking for her sister in New York City. In one of the most cringing scenes, Dawn is put up in front of the school, encouraged to thank them for their support while her sister was missing. We know that they didn’t support her and so does she. Though, she goes through with the thank you speech, but without a forced smile. Lets not forget that Dawn is only in middle school. She asks her brother if things improve in high school. He gives her a piece of advice about high school. “They call you names, but not as much to your face,” he says. As a former teenager, I couldn't of said it better.