What do Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, Cast Away, and Romancing the Stone have in common? They were all directed by Robert Zemeckis at a time when he had not learned about this CGI animation that is now his trademark. Since The Polar Express he has used it in Beowulf, A Christmas Carol and now Welcome to Marwen.
But Mannnnnnn, what the hell did I just watch? Walking in without the highest expectations still did not prepare me for what I just witnessed. I have to tread lightly here because the story is based off the unbelievable real life story of Mark Hogancamp. However, movies still need to be judged based on their merits not based on the source material. Soooo……
Welcome to Marwen(col) is a story that is half told in the real world and half told from inside the mind of Mark Hogancamp (played by Steve Carell.)
Carell is actually solid in this movie given the material he is saddled with, however just the constant cutting back and forth between the two worlds really brings this down. A viewer cannot get into a rhythm with the plot because it will cut back to a war scene in his brain. At one point in the movie they play Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) at the exact corniest moment, and I just had to roll my eyes because a recurring theme in this was Zemeckis explaining all his metaphors. Now i’m not a grammar guy at all but, like a joke, metaphors do not work as effectively when you explain them.
What is interesting about WTM is that if you have not seen the Documentary Marwencol or read about Mark’s life you might be extremely annoyed that Zemeckis cannot seem to figure out if this is a war movie, a romance movie, or a movie about addiction. It would have been much better if he chose which way he wanted the movie to go and just made that.
The only other performance to really highlight is Leslie Mann, who is charming as always while wearing every Sun Dress ever made. Fair warning there is a scene with her and Mark that is so uncomfortable to sit through, it actually reminded me of another Steve Carell scene.
A couple other Tidbits:
- Why did they not wrap up Kurts story?
- Be prepared for a long animated opening scene.
Overall this movie is a disappointment in the Zemeckis catalog however I hope he continues to take chances with his projects.
*As always you can find all my movie ratings here Movie Ratings