Movie Review: Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)

Some movies would tell that high school is the worst part of anybody’s life, with all the different kinds of cliques, the unequal giving of chances to students, and the struggle to get the attention of that boy you like. That’s what most movies tell us but this movie shows us the reality that it all starts in junior high…or even at our own home.

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Welcome to the Dollhouse is a low-budget indie film about the coming-of-age of Dawn Wiener, a not so good-looking girl who is experiencing a lot of negativity while in her junior high. Her daily struggle of wanting to fit in the crowd—whether it’s having a high grade or being the most popular girl in school. Her insecurities kicking in as she realizes that she’s not pretty enough to have a boyfriend.

What surprises me is how authentic Dawn’s actions were. It’s as if she was being controlled by what’s happening to her. The way she does to her little sister–who’s much more appealing compared to her, who has her parent’s attention, and who is just so carefree—what her classmates did her. This can be seen in so many ways in the movie, but it started when she called Missy (the little sister) “lesbo” after being called that in school.

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The rage of Dawn towards Missy is triggered by how she can’t defend herself from the people bullying her and calling her names like Wienerdog. She can’t protect herself from the embarrassment she’s feeling that’s why she feels low. All that she can do is just put her head down and try to forget about it. Compared to when she’s at home, Dawn is older than Missy so she is in superiority and can do anything she wants to her little sister. Which then triggers her mother to get mad at her which just adds to much more social problems to Dawn.


Because Dawn is not just a student but she is also a daughter. Another trigger of Dawn’s rage is the fact that she can’t get the attention and appreciation of her mother. So she tries to get the attention of other people instead like her brother’s band vocalist, Steve Rogers.


Just like any teenager, there is someone out there who will test how controlled you are with your hormones. Heather Matarazzo’s character (Dawn) also continued to show her curiosity as she experiences how it is having a crush with someone.

One surprising event (which honestly made me more hooked to the movie) is when Brendon, a known bully in her school and has been bullying her, showed interest in her. I just suddenly thought how true what people say that when boys keep on teasing you it just means they kind of like you because they just want to get your attention. It was a puppy love so right for each other because they can fix each other, but at the wrong time.

She became open to the world of sexuality and relationships. But just like her life, it all messed up. Which gives us the message that you just can’t be in a relationship while you’re still a mess, fix your life first.

You know how there’s a huge change in the family of the characters in the movie and that’s when a major change in the main character will happen? I thought that was going to happen to Dawn as Missy went missing because of her. But no, the struggle of gaining her mother’s attention is still there. She still wants to be the best daughter in the world.

Nope. Change really does not happen every time.


The thing I liked with this movie is the consistency of the characters. There wasn’t much major change that happened, only development of their way of thinking and their lives. Dawn experienced a lot of new things and that’s good for her because she is growing up, but her attitude towards fitting in is still there. Nothing changed until the end. As an audience, I begin to believe that that’s what she really wants in that phase of her life. Which is just understandable, as Dawn is someone who’s still undergoing puberty and is still just a teenager.

Heather Matarazzo did a great job as Dawn. Her appearance was really an epitome of someone still in the process of the “glo-up.”

The symbols that explains why the title is ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ is all over the movie. The dolls in Dawn and Missy’s room. Steve Roger’s song which contains a lyric with “dollhouse” in it. And of course the perfection that can be seen in their house, the school, and the people around her. We all know as dollhouse’s as perfect and beautiful. And then there’s Dawn, someone who is imperfect. Someone unusual to the dollhouse.

And that’s when we say “Hey, welcome to the dollhouse.”

I’d recommend this to everyone. It really is a great movie. (Dollhouse by Melanie Martinez starts to play. Lol.)


Rating: 5/5


3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)

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