Welcome to the Dollhouse

Director: Todd Solondz
Screenwriters: Todd Solondz


Dawn Wiener is a middle child in middle school in the middle of New Jersey. She is is known to her friends as “wiener dog” but then again, she really doesn’t have any friends. It is just a nickname she endures, and enduring is what she does most the time in this, her first year of junior high. She is in limbo—that place between childhood and adulthood known as puberty.

Welcome to the Dollhouse is a stark suburban comedy that takes you back to a time when your life didn’t make sense (not that it ever does), but this is that awful time when you still believed it should. Todd Solondz has created a neoclassic protagonist, an eleven-year-old girl who fits in neither at home nor at school. She’s the type you hoped would not sit next to you in the lunchroom. She breaks your heart as she scrutinizes the world through thick, not-so-rose-colored glasses. She is not a character in a TV sitcom where everything comes out all right in the end or who takes off her glasses and is suddenly beautiful. Dawn Wiener’s problems are real.

Solondz is a master at creating a world that is slightly askew though totally familiar. The art direction and costumes alone will send you reeling into your own memories. He walks the delicate line between style and reality. Welcome to the Dollhouse is neither sentimental nor condescending and because of that, Dawn’s journey remains poignant. So then how can her plight be funny? Those of us who were more of a “wiener dog” than a football captain or head cheerleader will understand the pain, but hopefully enough time has passed so we can laugh as well.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

  • Section: Dramatic Competition
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Language: English
  • Run Time: 87 min.

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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