Booting up the trusty flux capacitor Robert Zemeckis kick starts 2019 with Welcome to Marwen. Inspired by the 2010 documentary Marwenco, Zemeckis tells the true story of Mark Hogencamp - the victim of a brutal hate crime who loses his memory but finds a unique and therapeutic way to help him on his journey to recovery. Combining doll-like animation with live action and following his recent run of humdrum movies, can Zemekics make a fantastic return to form with this bold artistic move?
Welcome to Marwen is just as plastic and hollow as the dolls that populate it. Although the film has a sprinkling of tender moments, for the most part Zemekics churns out a sloppy, schmaltzy bio-pic that consistently trips over its own feet. This ridiculously un-profound melodrama spotlights how a chalkboard brainstorm can completely collapse in on itself during production. Welcome to Marwen boasts an intriguing Barbie-esque style of animation, but as well as it blends with the narrative visually there is a lot left to be desired. Zemeckis makes a dogs dinner of some potentially brilliant source material, made worse by his and Caroline Thompson's awkward and clumsy screenplay.
Steve Carrell delivers a serviceable performance as the eccentric but broken artist Mark Hoggencamp, finding some nuance with certain mannerisms but is ultimately drowned out by the negative quirks of the film. Other great additions to the cast are wasted in cookie cutter roles - Leslie Mann is very one sided as Mark's love interest Nichol, and the same can be said for Gwendoline Christie and Janelle Monàe who are more compelling in their plastic form. Lacking the organisation of a typical dolls house, Welcome to Marwen is a jumble of abandoned bits and bobs, failing to tie its loose and elementary themes together.
Soppy and one dimensional - the film aims for the heartstrings but its over reliance on gushy dialog makes it hard to sympathise with at all. Watching this you'd be shocked to discover this is the same man behind the rich and highly sophisticated Forrest Gump; but don't expect any of the same artistry on display here. Zemeckis is so caught up in his own fantasy formula that in the latter stages of the film he even goes as far as to rip off his very own Back to the Future with a nonsensical, faux Delorean finale.
It appears you'll certainly feel unwelcome in Marwen. Zemeckis really loses his touch in this crummy turn for a director with a fair few notches on his belt. Steve Carell does his best to kick some life into this picture, but in the end Welcome to Marwen is plagued by a weak script and uninspired storytelling.
Welcome to Marwen:
Pinch of info
Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.