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Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)

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An unattractive seventh grader struggles to cope with inattentive parents, snobbish classmates, a smart older brother, an attractive younger sister and her own insecurities in suburban New Jersey.

Director:

Todd Solondz

Writer:

Todd Solondz
4 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Heather Matarazzo ... Dawn Wiener
Victoria Davis Victoria Davis ... Lolita
Christina Brucato ... Cookie
Christina Vidal ... Cynthia
Siri Howard Siri Howard ... Chrissy
Brendan Sexton III ... Brandon McCarthy (as Brendan Sexton Jr.)
Telly Pontidis Telly Pontidis ... Jed
Herbie Duarte Herbie Duarte ... Lance
Scott Coogan Scott Coogan ... Troy
Daria Kalinina ... Missy Wiener
Matthew Faber ... Mark Wiener
Josiah Trager Josiah Trager ... Kenny
Ken Leung ... Barry
Dimitri DeFresco Dimitri DeFresco ... Ralphy (as Dimitri Iervolino)
Rica Martens Rica Martens ... Mrs. Grissom
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Storyline

Seventh-grade is no fun. Especially for Dawn Weiner when everyone at school calls you 'Dog-Face' or 'Wiener-Dog.' Not to mention if your older brother is 'King of the Nerds' and your younger sister is a cutesy ballerina who gets you in trouble but is your parents' favorite. And that's just the beginning--her life seems to be falling apart when she faces rejection from the older guy in her brother's band that she has a crush on, her parents want to tear down her 'Special People's Club' clubhouse, and her sister is abducted.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Not all girls want to play with dolls.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 May 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Faggots and Retards See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,813,000, 19 July 1996

Gross USA:

$4,771,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Suburban Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"I think your singing was a little flat that time..." part is used as the ending segment of Lagwagon's song "Leave the Light On", from the 1998 album Let's Talk About Feelings. See more »

Goofs

In the toilets scene, Lolita exits the lavatory and closes the door twice in two different shots. See more »

Quotes

Steve Rodgers: Special people?
Dawn Weiner: Yeah.
Steve Rodgers: Do you know what "special people" means?
Dawn Weiner: What?
Steve Rodgers: Special people equals retarded. Your club is for retards.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Swan Lake
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (as Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)
Courtesy of Naxos of America
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Cruelty
3 May 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

"Welcome to the Dollhouse" was the introduction of an important voice in the American cinema. Todd Solondz's incisive study of a suburban family is one of the best indie films of the last decade. Having seen it in its theatrical release, we had the opportunity recently to take a new look at it. Mr. Solondz has created a picture of what cruelty does to a child, and how prevalent it is everywhere.

When we first meet the Wieners, living in suburban New Jersey, they appear to be the ideal family. Both parents, on the surface, look normal, but in watching them closely we come to the conclusion they are not. Some couples are not meant to be parents and the Wieners, obviously, while supportive of the older son, Mark, and the cute younger daughter, Missy, turn a blind eye toward Dawn, their middle daughter who is going through a hard time as she starts junior high school.

Not only is Dawn an unhappy girl, but she is the object of cruelty in the hands of the other students, both in her class, and in her school, in general. We watch as Brandon, the punkish boy, begins to taunt Dawn in his own sadistic way. Other girls come right out and ask Dawn whether she is a lesbian. There's also another girl that terrorizes her when both meet in the school bathroom. Every time Dawn tries to rebel, it turns out in disaster. Her school teacher doesn't even see anything wrong with Dawn, who is obviously affected by all she is experiencing at this crucial moment.

Dawn hits a nerve with Brandon when she calls him a retard. Little does she know his own brother is mentally challenged. Usually in the case of bullies like Brandon, they are acting up their frustrations by taking it on others they perceive as weaker, which is why he thinks he can do anything to Dawn because she will never do anything to him.

In a scene that gives cruelty a new name, we watch as the Wieners are having dinner one night. When Dawn contradicts something her mother has said, she is punished by not getting her dessert. We watch in total disbelief as the other Wieners begin to eat and Dawn's slice of chocolate cake remains near her mother until Missy asks to share that piece with Mark.

Dawn only has a friend. The young boy who shares her interests in hanging out in the dollhouse in the Wiener's backyard. When the hunky Steve Rogers joins Mark's band, Dawn discovers an irresistible attraction toward this loser. Dawn turns against her only friend and will call him names that we all realize is her own way to deal with emotions she has no control on. Instead of finding happiness among her peers, Dawn only encounters scorn and ridicule.

In Heather Matarazzo, the director found a young talent to give life to Dawn Wiener. Ms. Matarazzo has a peculiar kind of beauty, but she is made to wear horrible clothes to capture the essence of this sad young teen. Ms. Matarazzo under the guidance of Mr. Solondz makes an appealing Dawn. This young actress gave her character a range of emotions that even older, and more accomplished, actress wouldn't have given to this lost soul.

The rest of the cast is perfect. Brendan Sexton plays Brendan, the boy from a poor and broken home that has to deal with the blow life has given him. Angela Pietropinto as Mrs. Wiener is seen as the mother from hell. Mattew Faber and Daria Kalinina play Dawn's siblings.

This was a film that put Todd Solondz on the map. As he has shown with later films, he is a voice to be reckoned with in the independent cinema.


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