Starring: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Merritt Wever
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Running Time: 116 mins
Welcome To Marwen is an American film about a traumatised man who finds an outlet for his suffering, creating a whole world out of figurines inspired from the people around him.
With a little bit of Zemeckis magic, as well as excellent visual effects and a cute and often engrossing story, Welcome To Marwen is at times a delightful watch, however it struggles with a poorly structured screenplay that gets off to a terrible start, and doesn’t ever quite recover to the point that the film is without glaring flaws and ambiguities.
Before I get into that, however, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy Welcome To Marwen, because while it’s full of annoying flaws and evidence of poor writing, it has a really fun premise that’s executed wonderfully at times.
With a likable performance from Steve Carell that really grew on me after a shaky start, as well as delightful turn from Leslie Mann, the movie isn’t without a strongly likable energy, and when it’s at its cutest and cheesiest, it’s actually heartwarming enough to put a smile on your face.
On top of that, the movie really impresses with some brilliant visual effects that bring the world of the figurines to life in fantastic detail, thanks to a fun-loving and not overly serious animation of their exploits, as well as good attention paid to the fantasy story of the figurines and the world in which they live, something that adds another level of enjoyable and likable energy to the movie.
There are moments when the story feels like a solid Robert Zemeckis movie, with a good combination of real-world drama and enough fantasy magic to provide a little bit of wonderment and awe, and that’s when Welcome To Marwen really works, particularly in its middle act, where things aren’t ever too serious, but still lend enough emotional depth to the story that it makes for a more engrossing watch.
However, the movie is littered with glaring flaws from beginning to end that unfortunately make it a regularly frustrating watch. While it’s pleasant and heartwarming on the surface, the screenplay really fails to deliver the emotional power that it’s going for in telling a true story, and instead hits its main story beats a little too on the nose for my liking.
The film’s main theme goes back to that old adage that art imitates life, and life imitates art, and while the parallels between the world of the figurines and the real world is something that’s occasionally satisfying to see, it makes the movie feel very repetitive and predictable at times, as we go through something in one setting, and then see it happen in a similar way in the other, which proves incredibly frustrating when it happens again and again and again, especially when the story is trying to illicit some real emotional power out of that main theme.
On the flipside, however, the screenplay is also really lacking in clarity throughout, and often makes for a more confusing watch than anything else. With a terrible opening act that leaves you completely bewildered as to who the main character is and why he makes the figurines, the film continues to leave infuriatingly obvious ambiguities sitting right in the middle of the screenplay, getting worse and worse throughout as it slowly blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, and unfortunately making for a frustrating and messy feel throughout.
Overall, I did like Welcome To Marwen, given its often cute and imaginative story, as well as the selection of strong performances and excellent visual effects, however it’s a film that too often falls into the trap of developing its main theme in too blatant a manner, resulting in an annoyingly repetitive story structure, all the while also frustrating with a lack of clarity that leads to a rather confusing watch throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.1.