The poignant story of Mark Hogancamp is a familiar one for toy photographers, as it was first told in the 2010 documentary, Marwencol, and subsequent book, Welcome to Marwencol. Last year, Robert Zemeckis brought the story to the masses on the big screen, with… mixed results.
When I first saw the trailer for Welcome to Marwen, starring Steve Carell as Hogancamp – a US Navy veteran who turned to toy photography after becoming the victim of a hate crime in 2001 – I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was aware of Hogancamp’s work, but had not yet seen the original documentary. I was not only blown away by Hogancamp’s story, but by the mere fact that a movie about toy photography was hitting theaters, from one of my favorite directors no less!
The film arrived in December 2018 without much fanfare, receiving mixed-to-negative reviews (it currently holds a disappointing 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and grossed less than $13 million in its theatrical run, falling far short of its $39-50 million production budget. It was, for all intents and purposes, a dud.
Despite its tepid reception I was still interested in seeing the film and chasing down the 2010 documentary. While on my podcast break last month I finally had the chance to do both, and it was actually podcast editor Joshua Kittleson who reached out and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the movie for the show.
Josh and I had a great conversation about Welcome to Marwen, Zemeckis’ choice to tell the story with a mix of live action and CGI, and of course how it compares to the 2010 documentary. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t worry, because we talk spoiler-free for the beginning chunk of the episode.
Have you seen Welcome to Marwen? What did you think of it? Continue the conversation with us in the comments below!