#127 | Welcome To Marwen: Beyond The Valley of the Sex Dolls

Listen to our Welcome To Marwen episode on:

On paper, the true story of Mark Hogencamp, a visual artist who creates dioramas using plastic dolls to process his trauma after being beaten almost to death in his home town, is the perfect match for Robert Zemeckis, a director known for using incorporating groundbreaking visual effects into crowd-pleasing hits such as Forrest Gump and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. However, when Welcome To Marwen was released earlier this year, the reviews were lukewarm and the box office nothing short of disastrous.

After joining the select group of people who have actually watched the movie, the overall impression we got was that the Mark Hogencamp story just doesn’t fit into an easily digestible Hollywood narrative, which is unfortunately what Zemeckis and star Steve Carrell attempt to force it into. It’s a fascinating case for sure, but the real version is also dark, complicated and without a particularly happy ending. In the movie’s attempts to simplify the story, it also clumsily side-steps a lot of the nuance, resulting in a bit of a tonal mess that never quite rings true.

Still, it’s always good to see a genuinely different story from a mainstream Hollywood studio, and unless you’ve seen the (superior) original documentary Marwencol, chances are you won’t have seen anything like this before. It’s also blessed with a deep cast of talented supporting actresses, and although most are sadly under-used, it’s nice to see Leslie Mann in a more substantial dramatic role than she’s generally associated with, while Gwendoline Christie’s very broad attempt at a Russian accent is an absolute hoot.

In this week’s episode, we discuss the difficulty of pitching sequels for ‘based on a true story’ movies, compare notes on how we’d improve this film via re-casting and attempt to make sense of it all via some good old fashioned drinking games.

Our Welcome To Marwen episode is available for free download or streaming via all good podcasting apps. Simply follow the links at the top of this blog post or search ‘Beyond The Box Set’ on your preferred app. If you enjoy the episode, please consider hitting subscribe to receive a new episode every Friday morning. If you could also leave us a rating and a review, we will literally love you forever.

Next week, we’re kicking off a brand new mini-season featuring films based on the work of a very famous, very productive author. Until then, happy listening and remember – not all toy movies are suitable for kids…