[Early Review] Welcome to Marwen (2018)

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monae, Eiza Gonzalez, Gwendoline Christie, Leslie Zemeckis, Neil Jackson

Screenplay: Caroline Thompson, Robert Zemeckis

116 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence, some disturbing images, brief suggestive content, thematic material and language.

 

I look forward to every film Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Allied) makes. The man is always a captivating storyteller who brims with ambition and pushes the boundaries with every time he steps behind a camera. Ever since I saw the first trailer for Welcome to Marwen, I felt that this was another chance he had to push himself further. The struggle for the film, based on true events, is that it can’t seem to translate to the big screen in a wholly appealing and accessible way.

Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy, TV’s The Office) is struggling. He’s a man with a secret that makes some people not like him. When he is beaten within an inch of his life by some scumbags, he is unable to cope with his memory loss, his physical and emotional pain, his anxiety, and his depression. So he creates a world, Marwen, where he imagines himself as World War II Captain Mark “Hoagie” Hogancamp and all the women in his life as kick-ass soldiers, it helps. Enter new next-door neighbor Nicol (Leslie Mann, Knocked Up, Blockers), an attractive and friendly human who takes to Mark well and finds him to be a really interesting person. When Mark designs a figure in Marwen after Nicol, he finds that she helps him to be the person he needs to be to defeat his demons.

When Welcome to Marwen works, it works really well. When the film misses the mark, it misses it hard, so let’s unwrap this thing, firstly Steve Carell. Carell is becoming such a prolific and nuanced actor and he excites me with every new project he signs on for. Marwen is no different. His portrayal of Hogancamp is really incredible, and he accesses portions of anxiety and depression very nicely. His performance really highlights that sometimes, anxiety and depression manifest themselves in different ways.

Though Leslie Mann does great work as Nicol, I really don’t like where they take her character, especially with where she ends up. The ending of Nicol’s arc is really odd and it kind of thuds the movie. It feels like there isn’t anything for her character to do in the latter half of the film, but there’s a better way to wrap up her character.

The rest of the women of Marwen all have nice performance work, but I didn’t get the chance to connect with many of them. Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Darkest Minds) plays Anna, Mark’s social worker. She gets one scene, but we are asked to connect with her action-figure avatar. Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) plays Julie, his physical therapist, and it seems on the surface that we will get some time with her, but she barely plays a role outside of, again, her action-figure avatar. Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver, TV’s From Dusk Till Dawn) is Caralala, a co-worker of Mark’s at a local pub and grill, and she gets more screentime than the rest, but she isn’t a fully-realized character.

It’s too bad that we don’t have much characterization with the women of Marwen because the sequences in Marwen are really interesting and layered. Again, some of it works and some of it doesn’t. The visual palate of the Marwen stuff is great. I was worried that these figures wouldn’t get the emotion and look right and the audience would be stranded with this fake-looking character that’s supposed to look fake and real. It’s an odd problem to have. Thankfully, I never stepped out of the film during these sequences outside of a really odd Back to the Future reference that crashes and burns near the end of the film.

The Marwen sequences struggle with the characterization because we don’t get to know these people in real life and therefore cannot see the portions of their Marwen personas that belong to them and the portions that belong to Mark. Each time the Nazis show up, we get a lot of gunfire but no character. I was forced to relay all the characters through Mark’s spectrum.

Welcome to Marwen is hit-and-miss. The fantasy scenes are really interesting and kind of feel like a more-improved attempt at Sucker Punch, where the fantasy is important and has stakes on the film, but the film’s screenplay skips some important moments and includes some really strange stuff. The villain of Marwen, personified by a witch named Deja (Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds, In the Fade) really felt out of place. I wanted to like the movie so bad, and I did enjoy myself more than most, but it’s frustrating when it stumbles. It is Carell’s intense performance that kept me going and invested throughout, and he deserves more recognition than he gets.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

The Other Woman (2014)

MV5BMTc0ODE4ODY1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDA5NjkzMTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Director: Nick Cassavetes

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Kinney, Don Johnson

Screenplay: Melissa Stack

109 mins.  Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual references and language.

 

The Other Woman is the story of Carly (Cameron Diaz, There’s Something About Mary, Annie), an underdeveloped character who has just scored the man of her dreams in Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, TV’s Game of Thrones, Oblivion), until she discovers that she is being played when she meets Mark’s wife Kate (Leslie Mann, Knocked Up, Rio 2). The two create an unlikely (try impossible) bond over the fact that they are both still digging Mark even though they should hate him, which they also kind of do. The plot (if you can call it that) thickens when they discover another mistress (Kate Upton, The Three Stooges, Tower Heist) and the three of them join up to take vengeance in a strange mixture of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Saw. Pretty much, yeah.

I recall seeing the trailer for The Other Woman some time ago, and thinking about how much this movie was going to disappoint, particularly because I used to think Cameron Diaz was funny and I still usually find Leslie Mann to be a real treat. I think Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has some major chops from his performance in HBO’s Game of Thrones and films like Mama. This film is nothing like these previous works in that I liked the previously mentioned works.

THE OTHER WOMAN

Cameron Diaz plays her way through this movie as one of the most unlikable characters in her kind of situation, and Leslie Mann acts as though she is trying to act in a musical from the 1950s. Everything is overdone. Boobs McGee, or (you may recognize her stage name more, Kate Upton) has a body and a voice for silent pictures, and she has the acting skills of a mop handle. Her function in this film is to convince husbands to see it. Don’t be fooled by the breasts behind the curtain, moviegoers, it just isn’t worth it.

Nicki Minaj (Ice Age: Continental Drift) is in this piece of horseshit as well. She had trouble acting her way through a Lonely Island music video. Everything she says falls flat and without resonance. Someone throw a tomato at this clown and get her off the stage.

Even Don Johnson (TV’s Miami Vice, Django Unchained) isn’t spared from the terrible acting virus, though it is hard to blame him. I imagine the conversation with his agent went something like this: “Wait! You’re telling me I can bone Kate Upton in this picture? I’ll take it!” This coming from a major fan of Miami Vice, too.

The music sounds like someone grabbed Now 51 off the shelf and put it into iMovie.

Such a skilled director as Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, My Sister’s Keeper) behind the camera, you’d think something better could be said here, but unfortunately, he just doesn’t have a handle on the bogus screenplay. Go home, Nick, you’re drunk.

And on the subject of screenplays, this one is a doozy. It is almost as if they finished a rough draft and forgot to do the rewrite where they actually add in the humor. The entire film finally shreds to nothing by the finale, a bloated, overly out there ending that involves not one, but two breakaway gas gags and the biggest nosebleed I have ever witnessed on camera. It was a dumb idea that got turned into a dumb screenplay that got turned into a dumb movie.

the-other-woman-df-06793r_rgb

The Other Woman is hands down one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and it is a big contender for worst film of 2014, folks, please stay away from this one. In fact, burn all copies you may come across.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So what did you think of The Other Woman? Was it an affair to remember or did you feel cheated? Let me know!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑