living in

Living In: Welcome To the Dollhouse

by Maxwell Tielman


Todd Solondz’ classic film Welcome To The Dollhouse may wear an R Rating and come packaged as satire, but its subject matter —the awkward world of junior high school—is depicted with more truth and authenticity than many of its PG-13 teenybopper peers. Centered around a gangly, socially awkward girl (played by a brilliantly cast Heather Matarazzo), the film looks at pre-teen suburban angst through a dark, wickedly hilarious lens. The costumes and sets are unabashedly garish (Matarazzo’s getups are particularly fabulous), the humor is decidedly non-PC, and the adolescent discomfort so palpable you could cut it with a handsaw. Predating similarly kitch-tastic teen flicks like Donnie Darko, Napoleon Dynamite, and Ghost World by nearly a decade, the 1995 film seems remarkably ahead of its time. —Max


1. Monique Eyeglasses  | 2. Scott Eyeglasses | 3. Vintage Television | 4. Hammer | 5. Mermaid Barbie | 6. Handsaw | 7. Denim Backpack | 8. Vintage Table Lamp | 9. Yellow Shag Rug | 10. Hair Bobbles

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1. Cat Sweatshirt | 2. Vintage Danish Modern Chair | 3. Garfield Plush Toy | 4. Benjamin Moore Viking Yellow Paint | 5. Vintage Crochet Blanket | 6. Yellow Mixing Bowls | 7. Solar System Poster | 8. Smiley Face Earrings

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Film: Welcome To The Dollhouse

Year: 1995

Director: Todd Solondz

Starring: Heather Matarazzo, Matthew Faber, Daria Kalinina, Brendan Sexton III, Bill Buell, Angela Pietropinto

Production Design: Susan Block

Art Direction: Lori Solondz

Costume Design: Melissa Toth

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  • i stumbled upon this movie on cable when i was a pre-teen and I didn’t know what the heck was going on cause i’d never heard of indie films and the like, so the whole awkwardness of this movie just ingrained on me and i would remember bits of as i grew up. No one else in my school had ever seen it so that would make it even more weird when id try to explain to my friends.

  • Oh, Dawn. This movie was def on the list of films my friends and I obsessed over in college! (Also: Kicking and Screaming, Living in Oblivion, Sleep with Me, Bottle Rocket, Waiting for Guffman…go, mid-’90s!) Haven’t thought of Welcome to the Dollhouse in years, though. Love your take on it!!

  • I saw this movie at the tender age of 14 on VHS, everything hit home with uncanny humor. I love this movie and Dawn, and her awkward belly shirts. <3

  • This movie used to crack me and my sister up when we were kids. We still quote it to each other nearly 20 years later!

  • Love that you did a Living In with this movie. It’s perfect! It really does have a lot of style….that middle school 90s suburbia look! Excellent!

  • Still think this is one of the most honest teen films ever. This film and Thirteen freaked out every parent I knew who saw those films.

  • This makes me so happy! I grew up with Heather in Oyster Bay, NY (I remember running into her at a community pool just after WttD filming wrapped!), and always thought she nailed this role. It’s so nice to see many others feel the same way.

  • This movie is about how seriously tragic grade school can be when you’re not overly trendy and shallow. I strongly advise people to be as generous as possible about their knowledge on fashion and beauty to people that need advice on those areas. Despite how uninformed I was with regards to fashion and attitudes that were appealing to my peers at the time, not to sound egotistical but I look absolutely beautiful now. Most people nowadays, and especially people in grade school can be immature and narrow minded beyond belief. Absolutely, amazing.

  • Heather Matarazzo is an amazing actress, but holy crap…did anyone else catch Eric Mabius (Steve) also played Daniel Meade on Ugly Betty?!?! whoaaa

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