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"WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE"
(1996) (Heather Matarazzo, Brendan Sexton Jr.) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild None Extreme Mild Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None Minor Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Minor Moderate Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A middle school student must endure being the most unpopular girl in school and at home.
PLOT:
Dawn Wiener (HEATHER MATARAZZO) is your average middle school student with two problems. Nearly everyone thinks she's ugly and most everyone doesn't like her. Even her mom and dad treat her older brother, Mark (MATTHEW FABER), a serious student and rock band member, and younger prissy sister, Missy (DARIA KALININA), better than her. Dawn's only friend is Ralphy (DIMITRI IERVOLINO), a boy small for his age who's always picked on by the rough kids in school, including white trash boy Brandon McCarthy (BRENDAN SEXTON JR.). Dawn's frustration level grows every day, but when Steve Rodgers (ERIC MABIUS), a long haired, free-spirited high school student joins Mark's band as the lead singer, Dawn gets a crush on him and sees a possible light at the end of the tunnel.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Most kids won't know about this small film, and while it's about middle school students, you may find the material a little too mature for that age group.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • HEATHER MATARAZZO plays a homely middle school girl who nearly has no friends and is taunted by her classmates all of the time.
  • BRENDAN SEXTON JR. plays a troubled, white trash middle school thug.
  • ERIC MABIUS plays a free-spirited, budding rock singer who drops out of school to "search for the stars."
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    This film has a fresh, inventive feel to it and that sets it apart from most of the assembly line productions we've grown accustomed to seeing. With a nod toward a black comedy take on adolescent pangs, one never knows what direction this movie will take and that makes it that much more fun. It's hard to say whether Dawn has grown up in this hellish world where she's unfortunately found herself at the bottom of the totem pole, or whether much of what we see is really her take on what may be a nearly normal world. The film has such a surreal feel to it that perhaps a combination of the two has come together to create this place. The casting is perfect, from Dawn's geeky, but ambitious brother to her little sister who's so cute and precocious that you can see why Dawn dislikes her. And Heather Matarazzo is game to act in a production where she's the butt of the joke and the ugly duckling at the party. While the movie may come off as too grim for some, others will enjoy taking the normal coming of age story and turning it on it's side. One only wishes and actually comes to expect that Dawn will finally crack and enact revenge upon her tormentors. The fact that the film makers restrained her, though, gives the film a spark of originality and touch of class. Some may be offended by the language and behavior exhibited by these middle school students, but the film wasn't aimed at them as its audience. Instead it appeals to those who've been in that situation and survived. We give this film a 7 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Obviously the most prevalent and disturbing material concerns how the other students treat Dawn. Some of your kids may be on a similar giving or receiving end of that kind of situation and this could be a good chance to discuss that with them. The profanity is rather much, but one must remember that this film wasn't aimed at the audience it's representing. There's also a good amount of sexual discussion, but nothing happens among the characters. A bigger issue is that Brandon threatens Dawn with rape several times and even holds a knife to her throat during one of them. This threat slowly turns into them maybe wanting to have consensual sex, and really turns out to have been caused by her calling him "retard." Once he tells her he's got a retarded brother and she apologizes, he no longer feels "the need" to rape her. Still the threat of rape is there and should be noted. If you're thinking of allowing your kids to see this film, we do suggest that you read through the category listings before allowing them to do so.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Older students are seen drinking out of brown paper bags while sitting on their parked cars.
  • The principal announces over the loudspeaker that drugs were found in the bathroom. Later the police take Brandon away and the other kids think he's dealing drugs. He tells Dawn, however, that it was someone else.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Nearly every student is mean to Dawn. They call her "lesbo," write "Wiener-dog" and "You suck" on her locker, shoot spit balls at her, etc...
  • A girl stops Dawn from leaving the girl's bathroom until she uses it, and holds the stall door open to watch her (we don't see her use the toilet).
  • Other students aren't nice to her friend Ralphy and call him "faggot" and beat him up.
  • Dawn lets Steve into the house when no one else is home and he steals money from the kitchen table when she's not looking.
  • Dawn's mother wants Dawn's clubhouse torn down to make way for their 20th wedding anniversary party. When Dawn won't do it, her mother shuns her, and in one scene, gives everyone in the family except Dawn a mouth-watering dessert.
  • A snobby rich girl is mean to Brandon and doesn't invite him to her birthday party.
  • Dawn asks Steve if he wants to join her "special people" club. He then tells her that most people think that term is used for retarded people.
  • Ralphy calls for Dawn, but hears her telling Missy to tell him that he's a "faggot" and no friend of hers.
  • Dawn purposefully doesn't give a message to Missy about being picked up after a recital and a neighbor then kidnaps the little girl.
  • As Dawn reads a family thank you to the student body, the students begin chanting "Wiener-dog" at her.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • A girl won't let Dawn out of the girl's bathroom until she sees her "take a sh*t."
  • Brandon threatens Dawn several times that he's going to rape her, and does grab her twice and uses a knife to keep her quiet.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Knife: Used by Brandon to threaten Dawn while telling her he's going to rape her.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Barf," "Lesbo," "Sucks," "Faggot," "Idiot," "Jerk," "Drop dead," "Stupid," "Retard," "Bitch," "Dog face," "Ugly," and "Ding-head."
  • Calling kids all of the above names and joining in with others to taunt and single out one individual.
  • Brandon tries to copy Dawn's answers on a test.
  • Brandon repeatedly mouths the words "F*ck you" to Dawn while both are in detention and then blows her kisses and suggestively licks his lips.
  • Boys shoot spit balls at Dawn and when she finally fires one back, she hits a teacher in the eye.
  • Students give Dawn "the finger."
  • Steve drops out of high school, Brandon runs away and so does Dawn to New York to look for her missing sister.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • In a song sung by Steve, we hear the following: "Open up sugar, let me in...Why don't you give me some sweet candy...I'm gonna steal your pearl...Let's get a little wild. Let's get a little crazy."
  • Another song has the lyrics, "I've got a blow up doll and she looks like you little girl."
  • PROFANITY
  • 16 "f" words (2 used sexually), 17 "s" words, 2 slang terms for female genitals (the "c" word), 6 "ass" words, 2 hells, and 1 use each of "Oh God" and "For Christ's sakes" as exclamations.
  • Brandon repeatedly mouths the words "F*ck you" to Dawn while both are in detention. Later she does the same thing to Missy at the dinner table.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Brandon repeatedly mouths the words "F*ck you" to Dawn while both are in detention and then blows her kisses and suggestively licks his lips.
  • Mark gets a letter from a "girlfriend" and we hear her (voice over) say that while her mother agreed that experimental sex is a good thing to do before marriage, that's only the case if there seems to be a commitment. And she then breaks up with him.
  • Mark tells Dawn that Steve is "horny" and will go out with any girl if "she's willing to go all the way" with him.
  • A girl tells Dawn that she and Steve "finger f*cked." Later, while looking at herself in the mirror, Dawn curiously looks at her fingers. She then tells Steve that she sprained her finger, implying that she might have been trying something with it.
  • Dawn, trying to cast a spell on Steve, says, "You'll fall in love with me. You'll make love with me."
  • Brandon has a centerfold in his locker and the woman's bare breasts are seen.
  • Brandon's threat of rape of Dawn turns into them thinking about having consensual sex, but nothing happens.
  • Dawn finds Steve in the garage, his shirt unbuttoned, with a shirtless girl whose bra has been partially taken off.
  • When Dawn goes to visit Brandon, his father asks, "What'd he do? Knock you up?"
  • SMOKING
  • Brandon smokes cigarettes twice and offers one to Dawn, but she declines.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Dawn doesn't get along with her mother and this escalates when her mom wants to tear down Dawn's clubhouse, but Dawn doesn't want to.
  • The family must deal with Missy being kidnaped and the father appears to have a nervous breakdown.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Kidnaping. One older student addresses the student body about it happening to her and then it happens to Missy (who's abducted by a neighbor) but neither are played out to be as serious as they really are.
  • Rape and how if someone threatens you with it (or any other violence) to report it immediately.
  • Taunting and treating others badly.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some older boys hassle a younger boy in the hallway and then punch him in the stomach as they leave.
  • A girl stops Dawn from leaving the girl's bathroom until she uses it, and holds the stall door open to watch her (we don't see her use the toilet).
  • Dawn cuts off the head of one of Missy's dolls with a saw.
  • Boys shoot spit balls at Dawn and when she finally fires one back, she hits a teacher in the eye.
  • Brandon and his buddies hassle Dawn and Ralphy and hit the younger boy on his head.
  • Brandon threatens Dawn, telling her that he's going to find her after school and rape her. He later pushes her against the wall, holds a knife to her throat and tells her to strip. When someone happens by, she runs away.
  • Brandon calls Dawn on the phone and threatens that he'll rape her the next day after school. The next day he pulls the knife on her again, and then leads her out to a remote section of town. (She does go along willingly at this point and the tone changes from a threat of rape to that of having sex).
  • Brandon knocks Dawn to the ground as she chases after him.
  • Dawn takes the tape of her parents wedding anniversary party and smashes it with a hammer. She then walks over to Missy and raises the hammer, but can't find it in herself to strike her sleeping sister.
  • Missy is kidnaped by a neighbor, but he doesn't do anything to her, and she seems no worse for the wear.



  • Reviewed January 3, 1997

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