I remember trying to convince my mom that middle school was exactly as Todd Solondz portrayed it. That may have made her hate the movie even more. It is a pretty disturbing story, and I really enjoy it. Without Welcome to the Dollhouse I might never have heard quality lines like “You think you’re hot shit, but really you’re just cold diarrhea” and “Steve, you will marry me.” Without Welcome to the Dollhouse I would have had to wait for The Princess Diaries to be introduced to Heather Matarazzo. (Yes, I saw The Princess Diairies).
I found very little of it offensive when I first saw the movie. I didn’t know anyone who had experienced exactly the same things, yet it did seem very realistic to me. Realistic, sad, and yet, also humorous. Maybe that’s why mom hated it, the humour. Afterall, it’s not really right to make a potential rape, or the threat of rape funny. But somehow I knew the threat was not real. I knew the whole set up was meant to be comedic and join the two characters. The over-the-top lighting revealing only Brandon’s mouth as he threatens Dawn over the phone, and the long shot encompassing the two of them as Dawn awaits her supposed fate. Brandon is not threatening. He only thinks he needs to pretend to be. So, basically I knew that my lover from the already seen Empire Records was safe from any necessary hatred. That was another great thing about this movie, two cute boys for me to drool over, Brendan Sexton III and Eric Mabius. Not only did I take the recommendation from the list, I saw the movie at least twice more. I half expected for my feelings to change, for me to dislike it, but I do not. I think it is a great movie, and in its own strange way, a love note to New Jersey. Todd Solondz clearly loves Jersey, almost in a John Waters loves Baltimore so much he would take it out for a trashy one night stand sort of a way.
Yeah, Welcome to the Dollhouse is quality.