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.
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.
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.
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.