Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael (by Karen Leigh Hopkins) mainly tells the story of a fifteen year old human stray named Dinky Bossetti (played by Winona Ryder). Dinky's friends are the reject animals she cares for at an abandoned boat called the ark. She dresses in black, doesn't brush her hair and writes confrontational poetry. Other kids throw food at her; her adoptive 'Mom' wants to send her to 'special school' and her adoptive 'Dad' is sympathetic and otherwise useless...
Without adult guidance or the support of her peers, Dinky drifts from one humiliation to the next, isolated behind sarcasm, shrouded in suspicion...
...until three events trigger change...
1st - The announcement of a visit by town celebrity - local girl made good - Roxy Carmichael... Dinky discovers that Roxy gave up a baby, fifteen years earlier, and thus she begins to explore her own identity - albeit under the delusion that she is Roxy's secret child and that this 'real mother' will take her home.
2nd - School councillor, Elizabeth Zaks (played by Laila Robins), succeeds in reaching the suspicious Dinky - establishing an unusual friendship.
3rd - School popular boy, Gerald Howells (Thomas Wilson Brown), begins to notice that maybe 'weird' is o.k., while Dinky decides that it is o.k. to "take more of an interest in yourself" (though the transformation in her appearance seems to owe more to the impending return of Roxy than to pleasing Gerald).
Karen Leigh Hopkins may have had more to show of Dinky's damage, but the studio's product specification called for teen-comedy-with-hint-of-drama. And that's what we got - dainty, hobbled, safe. But the metaphors are there; Dinky's black clothes, black bedroom (with elaborate door locks), her auto-suppression of her femininity and her other defensive/controlling behaviors suggest past abuse or other trauma. Meanwhile, the character's name is a relaxed but precise comment on cafeteria classification.
On the acting side: despite various encumbrances, Winona and Laila manage to bring the story ashore, ably assisted by the crew of the ark, which includes a pig called Dave, a turtle, a kitten, and a mini-mutt apparently named after breakfast cereal.
Obsessive Ryder fans have all seen it fifty billion times, even if they don't admit it.
But I only saw it once. Honest.
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