Welcome to Marwen
Review by Bobby Blakey
I have been a fan of Steve Carrell for years and have loved seeing how he has taken on so many different types of roles instead of just comedy like his Oscar nominated role in Foxcatcher. Now he is teaming up with the always great director Robert Zemeckis for the film Welcome to Marwen that looks to blend drama, animation and comedy like never before. The film co-stars Leslie Mann, Meritt Wever, Diane Kruger, Eize Gonzalez, Gwendoline Christie, and Janelle Mona’e, but does it offer up that something special the trailers promise or will this be a war not worth playing with?
Welcome to Marwen follows Mark, an aspiring artist who became a victim of a violent assault when five men beat him up and left him for dead. Following the attack, Mark was left with little to no memory of his previous life due to brain damage inflicted by his attackers. In a desperate attempt to regain his memories, Hogancamp constructs a miniature World War II village called Marwen in his yard to help in his recovery. Unfortunately, Mark's demons come back to haunt him when he's asked to testify against the five men that attacked him. This movie has been getting a lot of mixed reviews which really surprises me because I loved it.
Right out of the gate it gets in on the action figure action as we are introduced to the imaginative world of Marwen and its cast. This element makes sure to let the viewer know that this is not your normal feature. This entire element of the film could be part that puts people off, but I found it to be an insanely clever way of telling this story. There are so many ups and downs in his emotions and life seeing them unfold in such a unique way made for a great fresh story that brings so much to the table in a nonconventional way.
I thought Carrell was fantastic in this part. He was believable in his struggles both physically and emotionally. I know some feel the PG-13 rating watered down the impact of the story, but this is one that the less is more direction works to perfection thanks to the fantastical elements of Marwen. Obviously for this to work the CG animation has to work and it does way better than I had expected. Keeping the action figure/doll features intact complete with their joints and stiff nature at times makes it more fun and compelling as to how the varying actions come together. There is plenty of laughs and action in the world of Marwen while the real world is filled with anguish and heartache of a man just trying to find his self again.
I loved every moment of this movie and applaud both Carrell and Zemekis for taking on this project that no doubt sounded ridiculous on paper and could have easily crashed. Thankfully they have crafted a film that is original, heartfelt, and entertaining that ranks up as one of my favorite of the year.