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Welcome to the Dollhouse is a 1995 film by Todd Solondz. It stars Heather Matarazzo in her breakout role, as well as being Solondz's breakout movie as a director.
Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo) is an unpopular, unattractive seventh grader whose family treats her as just as much of an outcast. She has great difficulty making friends and is almost always the target of cruel and isolating behavior from her peers. At home, she is the least favorite of the three Wiener children, a fact that is often exploited by her younger tutu-wearing sister Missy (the apple of their parents' eye) in order to get her in trouble. Dawn goes through life in a quiet and awkward state of mind.
One day, Dawn's older brother Mark brings over a high school senior named Steve Rodgers to tutor him in exchange for Steve playing in Mark's band. Upon meeting, Dawn becomes infatuated with the older boy and develops a crush on him. Things get even more complicated for her as one of her classmates Brandon antagonizes her more and more, mostly because he has feelings for her.
Not to be confused with the TV series Dollhouse.
This film provide examples of:
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied to be the way Dawn sprained her finger.
- Adults Are Useless
- Alpha Bitch: Lolita at school, Missy at home.
- Bare Your Midriff: The outfit Dawn wears at her parents' anniversary party.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Missy.
- Black Comedy
- Black Comedy Rape: Brandon arranges ahead of time that he was going to rape Dawn and they reschedule when it doesn't work out the first time. He doesn't actually go through with it.
- Butt Monkey: Dawn. Extreme is not strong enough a word.
- Crapsack World
- Dawson Casting: 24 Year old Eric Mabius (Steve Rodgers) is in high school. Four years later he was still in high school for Cruel Intentions.
- Downer Ending: In the end, nothing at all has improved for Dawn, and she's in the exact same miserable state as before.
- Made even worse in the semi-sequel Palindromes.
- Dreadful Musician: Mark and his band.
- Handsome Lech: Steve.
- Imagine Spot: Used when Dawn goes to New York after her sister is kidnapped. She imagines finding Missy and her life instantly improving.
- Kids Are Cruel / Teens Are Monsters: Dawn's classmates. And, of course, Missy.
- Junior High
- Love Hurts
- Love Triangle: Brandon likes Dawn. Dawn kind of likes him, but is completely infatuated with Steve.
- Manipulative Bitch: Missy.
- Meaningful Name: the Alpha Bitch character's name is Lolita.
- Middle Child Syndrome: Dawn.
- Parental Favoritism: Dawn's parents, especially her mother, adore Missy and prefer her to the other two kids.
- Shrinking Violet: Dawn again.
- Spoiled Brat: Missy yet again.
- Stepford Suburbia
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Dawn in the movie's loose sequel Palindromes.
- Maybe now, they will leave you alone.
- Ted Baxter: Steve.
- Two Decades Behind: In the Still The Eighties sense.
- The Unfavorite: Dawn and, at least in relation to Missy, her brother Mark.
- Unfortunate Implications: In universe, Dawn and Ralphy's club "The Special People Club." Pointed out that it's a club "for retards."
- Youngest Child Wins: Missy.