Welcome to Marwen

Rated 3.0

Beaten nearly to death by bar thugs, an artist (Steve Carell) finds therapy in a miniature World War II village he builds in his yard, staging combat fantasies with action-figures, himself as a fly-boy G.I. Joe, his assailants as Nazi soldiers and women in his life as gun-toting Barbie dolls—all of which he carefully photographs. Director Robert Zemeckis (co-writing with Caroline Thompson) turns the true story of Mark Hogancamp (told in the 2010 documentary Marwencol) into a psychodrama caroming from war-movie fantasies where “Cap’n Hogie” exerts cool command, to a cringing reality where Hogancamp struggles to cope. It’s technically brilliant and very well-acted—especially by Leslie Mann as Hogancamp’s new neighbor and latest crush—but it never quite attains the emotional punch it’s aiming for.