Welcome to the Dollhouse

Oh, ain’t adolescence a bitch? There’s nothing worse than junior high school. This film is a very insightful look at the hell of that time. The actors are unknown and the production is really small-scale, but that doesn’t stop this indie of showcasing the talent of first time writer-director Todd Solondz, who then went on to make “Happiness”, one of the very best movies of 1998. Solondz seems to be a self-aware geek, in the good sense of the term. Aren’t all artists? I’m probably a geek myself, and it doesn’t bother me all that much. I mean, who cares about popularity? I don’t think a quarterback or a cheerleader would be able to make a movie. When you’re obsessed with hair, cars and parties, you don’t have time to be creative. Well, enough with my agenda.

Dawn Wiener is a misfit. Everyone is always picking on her at school, laughing at her, calling her a dog, telling her she’s ugly. Well, she ain’t no Uma, but she’s not, like, a real skank. Her clothes are awful, her hair is bad and her face is a bit dull, but with a little work, she could be okay. After all, she’s still just a kid! But teenagers are real cruel, and they won’t give her a rest. Everyone knows how that is; who hasn’t been made fun of in high school? What’s odd is that, if everyone feels uncomfortable at that age, why do they still give hell to others? Solondz’ take is that the only way for a loser to feel good is to find someone worse than him. Like there’s this guy Brandon who’s a reject, and it makes him feel better to insult Dawn, to switch the roles for once. Even Dawn is sometimes mean. When she’s home, she gives a hard time to her little sister, to get some get-back as they say. But no one seems to understand the works. Teachers don’t care, thinking that kids are all messed-up. They’re frustrated old bags who rarely take the time to understand their students. Who cares about justice? Just be a jerk to everyone!

Family life ain’t much better. Dawn’s mother only seems to worry about her cute sister, her father never says a word, and her older brother is a computer geek who’s got enough problems of his own. He plays in a garage band, and somehow, he convinced Steven to play with them. Steven’s a cool kid: the car, the women, the looks… Who could ask for more? Dawn can’t help but to fall in love with him. Maybe because he’s the one who’s kinda nice to her. Still, we can see this ain’t love: he’s just being nice. Oh, poor Dawn… We all go through this, but it still sucks. If only people remembered how it felt to be an outcast instead of becoming parents or teachers and making the same mistakes. Teen angst doesn’t exist: that’s bullshit talk from so-called experts. Teenagers aren’t bored and angry because of their age. It’s society who’s causing that. We take, like, 500 kids who are already pissed off because of their family, their looks or their love life, and we pack them in a building and wait for them to jump at each other’s throat. Come on, people! Anyway, you should really check out “Welcome to the Dollhouse”. It’s a simple, sad and sincere film like we don’t see often enough.