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Creator / Todd Solondz

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"So far, at least, I haven't found a way to tell my kind of stories without making them both sad and funny."

Todd Solondz (born October 15, 1959 in Newark, New Jersey) is a director of independent films who got his big break with the release of Welcome to the Dollhouse. He has since gone on to direct films such as Happiness, Storytelling, Palindromes, Dark Horse, and most recently, Wiener-Dog.

And his films are dark. He's made a name for himself as one of the most controversial and nihilistic cinematic minds working today, with his movies painting a bleakly misanthropic and brutal portrait of human existence, particularly in the New Jersey suburbs. They're loaded with Nightmare Fuel and Squick, so by no means are they for the squeamish. You have been warned.

Solondz can be compared to the likes of Bret Easton Ellis and Larry Clark, whose works deal with very similar themes about the dark side of humanity and self-destructive behavior.

His Filmography

Tropes found in himself and his work:

  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In Wiener-Dog, Dave Schmerz (Danny DeVito) is a cynical, exasperated screenwriting professor in New York City who tries to use Wiener-Dog in order to blow up the school. Solondz also teaches screenwriting at NYU.
    Solondz: "NYU. It is an evil empire. Iím in awe of how incompetent and corrupt the administration is. But that said, I love teaching there. I love the students. Itís the opposite of making a movie. I canít take any of the credit, or any of the blame, for the studentsí work."
  • Black Comedy: Of the cruelest, harshest kind imaginable. He's described himself as Judd Apatow's dark older brother.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: When not Evil Versus Evil outright. Welcome to the Dollhouse is the best example. Guess which side ends up winning?
  • Brain Bleach: You're going to need it. And maybe some therapy. And alcohol.
  • Crapsack World: No shit.
  • Downer Ending: Quite fond of these.
  • Dysfunction Junction: His characters, at the very least, aren't exactly happy, stable, moral, or all three.
  • The Eeyore: Most of the time.
  • Evil Versus Evil: No one is innocent in Solondz's work. No one.
  • Euroshlock: Despite being American productions, his films nonetheless have a lot in common with this trope. Leave the Camera Running? Check. Gorn and Squick? Check. Overbearing angst and gloominess? Checkola.
  • Gorn: Sometimes utilizes this.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Arguably the defining element of his films. If there are characters that aren't depraved, selfish, or apathetic, expect them either to make a FaceĖHeel Turn or be crushed by the story's end. Or raped. Or dead. Or raped after death.
  • Intermission: There's a tongue-in-cheek one in Wiener Dog.
  • Karma Houdini: Too many to count.
  • Leave the Camera Running: Comes with making the American equivalent of Euroshlock.
  • Lighter and Softer: Bizarrely enough, some critics noted that Dark Horse, a film about an irritating Manchild in a bizarre, unloving romance with a depressed woman, was the least hateful of all his films. The New York Times argued that it was asking if the main character, despite all his flaws, was deserving of love - unlike the other films, which heap scorn on the protagonists.
  • Look Both Ways: The unfortunate fate of the wiener dog in the movie of the same name.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Satirizes race in Storytelling, where a bland, depressed white blonde is raped by her black professor while telling her to call him racist names. When she writes about it, her classmates dismiss her as a racist white girl.
  • Misanthrope Supreme / Straw Nihilist: What critics of the films tend to stereotype him as. He's complained about it before, and several critics point out that, while the films are mocking and misanthropic, they still humanize their subjects.
  • Old Shame: He doesn't seem to be fond of Fear, Anxiety & Depression, which was his directorial debut.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Good luck finding any pictures of the man with even the slightest hint of a smile on his face.
  • Refuge in Audacity: His jokes revolve around rape, child molestation, massacres, and bestiality. One of his most "sympathetic" protagonists fantasizes about killing children.
  • Self-Deprecation: One of his segments in Storytelling has a documentary filmmaker who becomes increasingly misanthropic, bitter, and angry at the world, and paints his documentary subject, an everyday high school student, in an incredibly harsh, hateful light. In the end, the student, who has had his entire family killed by a disgruntled cleaning lady, angrily tells off the filmmaker. Sound familiar?
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog