Carell is also joined by a good cast, seen mostly in doll form, with Diane Kruger, Janelle Monae, Eiza Gonzalez, Merritt Wever and Gwendoline Christie among the alter egos in his rich fantasy world.
Once the novelty wears off, though, “Marwen” becomes a tedious, rather predictable slog, one where the music seems to swell enthusiastically at every available opportunity. Those flourishes bring a warm fuzziness to the proceedings that feels at odds with much of what transpires, given the vaguely erotic and violent nature of the images that Marwen presents.
Carell portrays Mark with ample sensitivity, in the third film that casts him as a real person (along with “Beautiful Boy” and the soon-to-be-released “Vice”) in as many months. While the gifted comedic actor is making the most of exhibiting his dramatic side, the overall results have been decidedly mixed.
In an interview with CNN, Zemeckis acknowledged that the hard-to-define movie could represent a tough sell, and the real mystery is what other than the bold-faced names convinced the studio, Universal, to roll the dice on it.
For a while, anyway, “Marwen” looks like a decent bet — at the least, an interesting place to visit. After a while, though, as fictional World War II towns populated by dolls go, it’s not a destination that provides much incentive to stay.
“Welcome to Marwen” premieres Dec. 21 in the US. It’s rated PG-13.