Steve Carell’s ‘Welcome to Marwen’ Flops


Universal Pictures

“Welcome to Marwen” is expected to lose $50 million for the films contributors.

Aisha Durrani , Staff Reporter

Every good movie seems to have one common factor: a genuine connection with the audience. That connection is what keeps viewers captivated and interested in the storyline right up until the credits roll. It’s often challenging to convey a balance between captivating viewers and appearing genuine. Unfortunately, “Welcome to Marwen” misses the mark in both of these categories.

The movie, based on a true story, follows Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), who had been attacked and nearly beaten to death by five males (presumably Nazi-sympathizers) at a bar. Mark barely survived, but suffered brain damage and lost all memories of his previous life. In order to cope with this, he channels his pain and healing into creating a meticulous model town called Marwen, where he finally can be the hero. He takes photographs of the scenes and ends up becoming an esteemed artist in the area.

In the town, Mark becomes “Captain Hogie”, a high-heels fanatic who fights Nazis in World War II. The town is populated entirely by female dolls, dubbed, “The Women of Marwen,” modeled after the real women in his life. In fact, much of the movie reflects the mental psyche of Mark through the dolls, which become animated in surprising detail, to tell the story from Hogie’s view. The movie is clearly eccentric in its story of shame, pain, and healing.

Trouble inevitably arises when Mark is expected to face his attackers at their hearing, in order to ensure they get the maximum sentence. Mark’s PTSD is debilitating, and this makes him terrified to attend, while his lawyer becomes increasingly adamant that he show up. This challenging conflict is the driving force behind the movie.

The director, Robert Zemeckis, is well-known for several unique and critically-acclaimed movies, such as “Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Cast Away,” among others. However, this movie disappointed audiences, earning a measly 29 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is set to lose 50 million dollars at the box office. Unfortunately, its only claim to fame might eventually be that it’s Zemeckis’ worst movie to date.

The movie toes the line with drama and comedy, but sadly, most of the jokes fall flat on their face, as they are ill-timed, or just tragically unfunny. The comedy appears to cater to a younger audience, while some of the darker themes and suggestive scenes seem to cater to the more mature, and consequently doesn’t work with either audience.

Aside from the tone, the story was convoluted to say the least. While chasing so many different strings to create meaning, it backfires on itself, and none of the story lines stick. Many characters, both men and women, are also painfully one-dimensional, lacking any depth whatsoever. Even the ending (no spoilers) seems to chase after the wrong problem.

Although the movie doesn’t meet expectations, it does earn some points for sheer ambition and unique ideas. The animation of the dolls was undeniably spectacular. It helped bring another dimension to Mark’s condition, adding much-needed depth to the movie. Steve Carell and Leslie Mann were wonderful, as well as believable, but even the acclaimed cast couldn’t resuscitate this movie.  

Overall, critics and casual moviegoers alike can agree that “Welcome to Marwen” is severely underwhelming. It’s storyline is clumsy and often fell back on itself without reason, motive, or significance. The movie has definite potential, but blunder after blunder destroy what could have been a very thought-provoking and sentimental movie.