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Welcome to the Doll House

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Growing up is always a hard thing to do. Life is hard but life growing up is even harder. In the movie Dawn Weiner, a 12 year old girl in Junior High discovers just how difficult, confusing, and confrontational life can be for someone in Junior High.

Dawn Weiner puts up with people teasing her for her name. She is the Weiner dog. She is the lesbo. Her shy nature coupled with her poor sense of style in clothing makes her the butt of many jokes and pranks. No one wants to sit with her at lunch. When she finds a place to sit preppy girls tell her someone puked there earlier. Dawn's locker is covered in slangs, slurs, and insults of all sorts.

A school bully named Lolita accuses her of going after her man, Brendan. Lolita confronts Dawn in the bathroom at school. Dawn emerges from the stalls and is told to go back and "take a shit, I want to watch." Lolita delights in providing dawn with discomfort in anyway she can. Lolita calls Dawn, a lesbo a term that the whole school knows her by.

The time Dawn has at home is spent fighting with her sister Missy who always seems to win at everything because of her cuteness. Where Dawn is geeky and unattractive her younger sister is cute and loved. When dawn wants to watch TV and her sister won't let her, Dawn calls her sister a lesbo. Like the brat that she is, the younger sister then informs her mom who then punishes Dawn and demands an apology. At dinner Dawn is asked to tell her sister that she loves her. Dawn won't say it so she sits at the dinner table alone all night, until her mother realizes Ironically shortly after this incident the sister is kidnapped to insure a healthy bit of guilt for Dawn to feel.

Dawn has few friends. She builds a tree house for "special people" and enjoys hiding out there when her family and everyone else is giving her hell. Her parents tear the thing down because they figure Dawn is too old for tree houses. Dawn finally confronts Lolita the bully that seems to give her hell all the time. Dawn asks "why do you hate me.?" The bully responds "Because you're ugly." This statement really signifies just how cruel the world Dawn lives in is.

As the movie progresses Dawn stands up for a boy being bullied by another kid named Brendan. Brendan didn't like this intervention by "Wiener dog" and plans his revenge. At 3 O'Clock you are getting raped he announces. Dawn tries to sneak out of school later than usual but is cornered by Brendan who threatens to cut her. A janitor intervenes so Dawn gets away today.

On another occasion Brendan cheats off of Dawn on a test. Dawn brings this to the attention of her teacher who then gives them both detention. Dawn takes the test after school again and gets a D because she is so stressed.

Finally Brendan and Dawn go for a memorable walk. Dawn inquires "Are you still going to rape me." This is a classic scene. The harshness of the question almost undermines the closeness of the connection the characters are starting to have. Dawn becomes a girlfriend of sorts for Brendan at least in Brendan's eyes. But Dawn's heart lies somewhere else it seems. Dawn desires someone older, a musician in a band of her brothers.When he is over she fills him up with all kind of junk food. He blows her off when she tries to advance on him in any serious fashion.

In many ways Welcome to the Dollhouse is a reality based movie. Rather than a clean, feel good school environment that shows like Saved by the Bell foster, the movie represents school life in the dark context it truly is. For Dawn there are bullies, people that hate you for your appearance, and families that don't really care about your hopes or your dreams. There are little things to hope for like treehouses and thoughts of love with someone older. But these hopes are squashed almost with a smile by Dawn's family, "friends" and classmates.

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