Welcome to Marwen Parent Guide
"Welcome to Marwen" is a warm and touching film that treats its quirky and somewhat odd protagonist with gentleness and respect.
Parent Movie Review
Welcome to Marwen follows the tragic true story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carrell), a talented artist who is beaten nearly to death and loses most of his memories and his ability to draw. To continue making art, Hogancamp creates detailed dolls modeled on himself and his friends which he then sets in a scale replica of the fictional Belgian town of “Marwen”. In this setting, the dolls fight the Nazis and a mysterious witch named Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger). Meanwhile, in real life, Hogancamp has to contend with his trauma and mental illness as he prepares for an upcoming art show in New York and the sentencing hearing of the men who assaulted him.
Welcome to Marwen is an emotionally difficult and strange movie, with lots of adult concerns about loneliness and trauma. Its themes and images place it on the high end of the PG-13 scale and parents will want to be aware that it is definitely not suitable for children. There is some disturbing violence, both in the assault on Hogancamp and in set pieces played out by the dolls. Parents will also want to know that sexual content includes a mention of Hogancamp’s penchant for cross dressing and some pictures of topless pin-up girls. That said, this isn’t a film geared at younger teens, so you likely won’t have to talk your kids out of seeing it.
On the other hand, Welcome to Marwen is a warm and touching film. Mark Hogancamp is, without doubt, a little odd, and Steve Carrell really emphasizes his good-natured quirkiness. He also does an excellent job of portraying the hard and painful aspects of Hogancamp’s life, with a quiet, stuttering line delivery and an aversion to eye contact. It can be difficult to make a movie character feel real when you have a real person in direct comparison, but Carrell and the screenwriter (Caroline Thompson) do a respectable job of making the Mark Hogancamp we see on the screen feel like a well-rounded person; not just a caricature of a traumatized artist.
The movie’s style reflects much of the strangeness in the protagonist, with about half of the movie taking place in the fantasy/model world of Marwen (conveniently located in Hogancamp’s backyard) and acted out by digitally animated dolls of Hogancamp and his friends. The strong stylistic choices in these scenes help maintain a constant “vibe” for the film, as well as making internal emotional problems more accessible to the audience. Instead of, for example, just showing a man lying on the floor and screaming as he has a P.T.S.D. attack, we get a full German assault on a Belgian town, with bullets tearing through walls and windows. Welcome to Marwen definitely isn’t a movie for everyone, but it offers an unusually approachable depiction of P.T.S.D. and the after-effects of violent crime. Welcome to Marwen is kind-hearted and manages to have a lot of fun without detracting from the seriousness of its subject matter.Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, and Eiza González. Running time: 116 minutes. Theatrical release December 21, 2018. Updated December 20, 2018
Watch the trailer for Welcome to Marwen
Welcome to Marwen
Rating & Content Info
Why is Welcome to Marwen rated PG-13? Welcome to Marwen is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of fantasy violence, some disturbing images, brief suggestive content, thematic material and language
Violence: There is a scene of a man being brutally beaten: he is shown with blood on his face. Anthropomorphic dolls are shot, whipped, beaten, stabbed, and impaled. There are references to suicide, such as a man holding a handful of pills and a man pointing a gun at his head. A man suffers hallucinations about World War II.
Sexual Content: There are two scenes in which an anthropomorphic doll is shown topless (although she has no nipples). A few scenes involve dolls kissing. Nazi dolls rip off a woman’s blouse; rape is implied. There are drawings of WWII style pin-up girls who are also topless. A notebook is shown with a drawing of a topless woman; her breasts are seen. A man is shown watching the introduction to a pornographic movie, although no sexual content or nudity is shown. A man discusses his penchant for wearing women’s shoes and nylons. An apparently pornographic film is playing on a television set.
Profanity: There are 48 profanities in Welcome to Marwen along with a fair bit of name-calling (stupid, scum, etc). Scatological terms, anatomical phrases and homophobic slurs are the most frequent profanities, but terms of deity and mild obscenities are also used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: The protagonist is a recovering alcoholic who no longer drinks. He is shown to be intoxicated in a flashback. Anthropomorphic dolls are shown drinking socially, but not intoxicated. A man is shown to be abusing an unspecified prescription medication (described as addictive) to cope with extreme post-traumatic stress disorder. The protagonist is occasionally shown smoking cigarettes.
Page last updated December 20, 2018
Welcome to Marwen Parents' Guide
Mark Hogancamp deals with a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder. As with all mental illness, this is largely invisible. How can we try to make public spaces safer for individuals suffering with these kinds of mental illnesses? How can we help our friends as they struggle with mental or emotional problems
Read books about Welcome to Marwen
If you want more of Mark Hogancamp and Marwen, you can read his lavishly illustrated book, Welcome to Marwencol.
Looking for a way to use art to defuse the stresses of daily life? Try Art of Coloring: Disney Villains: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation. This adult coloring book will let you, like Mark Hogancamp, deal with your bad guys in an artistic setting. Mandalas for Meditation: An Adult Coloring Book directs your artistic efforts along more tranquil lines.
Those with PTSD or serious trauma might find help through The PTSD Coloring Book: A Calming Resource for Adults – Featuring 200 Works of Fine Art Paired with 200 Positive Affirmations by Mark Odland. Heidi Hanson has also created The Art of Healing Trauma Coloring Book: Therapeutic Coloring Pages and Exercises for Stress, Anxiety, and PTSD.
Those wanting to dive deeper into the world of art might like Jean Haines’ Paint Yourself Calm: Colourful, Creative Mindfulness Through Watercolour.
YA author Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Always War features a young man suffering from war-induced trauma.
Related home video titles:
For a more military approach to trauma, Railway Man, starring Colin Firth is one of the best movies release in the past 10 years.
A family safe film that focuses on a man recovering from traumatic experiences is Goodbye Christopher Robin. This film tells the story of A.A Milne and his experiences in coping with the shell shock acquired in the trenches of World War I.