Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. 100
    But I'm making Welcome to the Dollhouse sound like some sort of grim sociological study, and in fact it's a funny, intensely entertaining film.
  2. Reviewed by: Barry Walters
    100
    Todd Solondz's grand prize winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival lapses into satire, but its parodistic slant only exaggerates what is truthful, making the unpleasantness of that awkward age all the more disturbing and hilarious. It's a horror film starring reality in the monster role.
  3. But Solondz also creates keen portraits of the participating characters in Dawn's daily drama. (The only downside: The drama veers unsteadily toward outlandishness.)
  4. With his ability to understand and convey these absurdist scenarios in both adult and preteen terms, writer-director Solondz catches the unlooked-for humor in poignant, hurtful situations.
  5. With a fine vengeance along with flashes of great, unexpected tenderness, Mr. Solondz lethally evokes every petty humiliation that his seventh-grade heroine can't wait to forget.
  6. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    The beauty of Welcome to the Dollhouse is its pokerfaced objectivity, which neither condescends to its pubescent victim nor romantically inflates her plight.
  7. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    90
    Though lacking the sensationalistic elements of a movie like "Kids", Dollhouse offers unflinching realism, meticulous attention to detail and deliciously wicked humor as it explores the growing pains of a misfit.
  8. 89
    As Dawn, Matarazzo isn't afraid to evoke the horrors of puberty with a straightforward charmlessness: She's gawky, unhappy, and confused, while her tingling of sexual desire downright gives you the shivers.
  9. Reviewed by: Staff(not credited)
    88
    Hilarious and stunningly frank, writer-director Todd Solondz's evocation of awkward adolescence is a bracing antidote to the counterfeit nostalgia of "The Wonder Years" or "My So-Called Life".
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    88
    Welcome to the Dollhouse does, with accessible dark comedy and chilling honesty, reminding us right off that school-cafeteria agonies only begin with the cuisine. [24 May 1996 Pg.04.D]
  11. 80
    It may not be to everybody's taste, but this is a daring antidote to its more saccharine cousins.
  12. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    Solondz observes all this activity from an objectifying distance, very much the anthropologist trekking through the heart of darkness
  13. It scores its comic points with dire one-liners, an astringent dearth of sentimentality and only-in-America developments.
  14. 80
    Writer-director Todd Solondz is far from clueless when it comes to the agonies of early adolescence, which he mercilessly re-creates in his caustic suburban comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse.
  15. Solondz ("Fear, Anxiety and Depression") is almost unrelenting in his quirky fixation with the adolescent outsider and he pursues visions of everyday human injury nearly to the point of caricature. But he stops just short, and this amusingly twisted film mixes humor and heart-tugging sadness with a disturbing vitality.
  16. 75
    In this impressive debut, Solonz doesn't pull any punches in conveying the side of junior high that "The Wonder Years" never depicted: the naked cruelty that some boys and girls suffer at the hands of their classmates, their teachers, and even members of their own family.
  17. Todd Solondz's movie begins like a suburban ugly-duckling tale with many comic overtones, but it grows darker as it goes along, evoking dangers that youngsters must be alert to in today's world - from drugs to child abuse - and showing how cruel children can be to one another when grownups aren't around.
  18. Reviewed by: Laura Miller
    70
    Solondz's staunch commitment to depicting Dawn's humiliation sans sentimentality is honorable, and his eye for everyday human nastiness apt, but his intentions are rather cautious.
  19. This obsessive movie, awarded the grand jury prize at the Sundance festival, may not quite live up to its advance billing; the subject is powerful, but the filmmaking often seems slapdash, and the final half hour dithers.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 10, 2012
    9
    Brilliant. It's hard to find other words for this well-thought, nuanced, aching picture. A good movie for young folks as the ideas of attractiveness and self-worth become so exaggerated and distorted during the pubescent years. Full Review »
  2. JoshC
    Nov 20, 2006
    10
    A Massterpiece ! One of the best films of 1996. Funny, touching, and all around wonderful. It figures that a smug, self-important blowhard like Rosenbaum would give this a negative review. Full Review »