16 October 1998 | NeelyO
Todd Solondz's stepchild debut -- better than you'd think
While everyone seems to be pretending that writer/director Todd Solondz made his debut with "Welcome to the Dollhouse," his first effort was actually this comic look at NYC's underground art scene. (In his defense, Solondz did not have final cut, and he was not pleased with the results, so he has at least some justifiable motivation for trying to re-write history -- this film is not listed in his bio in the "Happiness" press kit, and I suspect many critics don't know it exists.)
So, how is it? Uneven, yes, but possessed of a biting wit (nowhere near as trenchant as it would get in Solondz's later, better films). Solondz also stars in the film, cutting an unusual but nonetheless memorable figure as Ira, an unsuccessful playwright who keeps hoping that Samuel Beckett will reply to his invitation for a collaboration.
"Fear, Anxiety and Depression" isn't for everyone, but if you find the title appealing, its sense of humor may tickle you as well. The Samuel Goldwyn Company (barely) released the film in 89/90, and you can still find it on video. Warning: Solondz's bizarre and funny love song "A Neat Kind of Guy" will get stuck in your head for DECADES.