Steve Carell is making the rounds in his fair share of films this winter, but one of the most anticipated of the year has to be the action-drama, Welcome to Marwen.
Based on the fascinating real-life story of Mark Hogancamp, Welcome to Marwen takes viewers into Hogancamp’s fantasy world of WWII era Belgium, which he created using barbie-doll-like action figures as a means for dealing with PTSD.
A former illustrator, Hogancamp’s world changed in an instant nineteen years ago when five neo-nazi men viciously beat him outside of a New York bar and left him for dead. He woke up in the hospital nine days later thinking the year was 1984. It was 2000. Hogancamp emerged from the beating with severe brain damage, and very few memories from his life.
The highly acclaimed film about Hogancamp’s “other life” has drawn the intrigue and attention of viewers far and wide. But should you take your kids to see this movie?
Some moms recently took to Facebook warning others about the unexpected red flags of Welcome to Marwen.
Rated PG-13, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) suggests this movie is not suitable for children under the age of 13. Of course, in 2019, that suggestion can mean very different things to everyone based on what you allow your child to see and do.
And seeing as the movie features doll-like action figures, the partially-animated film seemingly appeals to kids and adults of all ages.
We turned to KidsInMind.com for some guidance.
Their detailed guide rates “Sex & Nudity,” “Violence & Gore,” and “Language,” each on a 10 point scale.
Sex & Nudity: 4
The premise of the film itself originates on sexuality. Hogancamp was beaten in 2000 after drunkenly murmering that he occasionally enjoys wearing women’s shoes. The theme carries on throughout the movie as several characters—both real and doll-like, ask about being a “queer” and a “cross-dresser.” One man owns over 300 pairs of women’s high heel shoes.
References to a pornographic film are hard to escape as if plays in the background on a TV in the film, and drawings of bare-breasted women are just the beginning of sexualization you can expect from this flick. Other scenes include a woman in the distance emerging, wearing only a lose-fitting bra and a thong before revealing her full backside.
Kids In Mind also warns about several kissing scenes between dolls, some in which two dolls lay on top of one another in a sexual manner. One scene includes a female doll announcing that she is the “Virgin of Marwen.”
“Although the movie has an amazing cast and interesting plot, the violence and sexualization is over the top,” the teen writes. “There is an abundance of violence with the dolls, even though it is obviously fake, is still disturbing. All the female dolls are extremely sexualized versions of the humans they represent. Also, the main character was high on his anti-anxiety meds the whole time. The movie could have been done well had it been written differently, I liked the idea. I have never walked out of a movie in a theater before, but this one was just too much.”
Violence & Gore: 6
Of course, we know from the plot that we will likely see a man brutally assaulted. But just how intense are we talking here?
Kids In Mind says there are five flashbacks to that life-altering night, showing the five men violently beating Hogancamp on the ground.
“Three scenes show multiple kicks to the body and two scenes add kicks and punches to the head and arms as we see the victim’s face streaming rivulets of blood while he groans and grimaces.”
We see a man’s severely bruised and beaten face after waking up in the hospital with bandages.
Several “action scenes” see lots of shooting, gun violence and warfare.
The dolls see even more violence as armed Nazi dolls shoot one another to pieces, a doll is impaled by a wrought iron fence, and there’s a stabbing with a high heel—because again, the theme is consistent. There are several violent Nazi references, and a witch doll, who continuously tries to lure Hogancamp into taking more pills than needed for his PTSD, among other schemes.
It would seem that there is more action than drama based on several reviews, but with WWII action, comes violence. And whether it’s the real-life violence of humans or the paint-filled gore of life-like dolls, the violence and gore in Welcome to Marwen is inescapable.
It’s best to know how much violence you’re okay with your kids seeing before entering this movie. Though much of the violence and gore happens among dolls, I think it’s important to remember that the dolls are representations of their human characters. So while the majority of it may only be plastic and paint, there is an underlying human-to-human violence that is worth noting.
Other than the expected amount of curse words for a PG-13 film, Kids in Mind notes that there are mild obscenities and several derogatory references to gays, Germans, and Russians, as well as some name-calling.
The biggest red flag to me as far as language goes really ties in with the maturity of the film. Whether it’s pornography playing in the background, sexual innuendos, or heavy references to drugs and alcohol, language is a major factor in whether or not you take your kids to see this film.
One mom on Facebook had an enlightening point saying that the movie could pose a good conversation that’s worth having with the kids. Having found herself in the position before of seeing things in a movie that she didn’t expect has given her the opportunity to speak into something before culture, society, or someone else is able to.
The WWII violence depicted in this film doesn’t strike me as anything worse than what many of our teens are experiencing in video games they play on the daily.
For me, the greater factor is how I want to go about speaking into my kids’ lives when it comes to sexuality, pornography, and how we see/treat women. What do I show them, and what do I allow them to see that is still God-Glorifying and aims to raise respectful men of God.
Probably not this.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that rating guides are your best bet in making sure there aren’t too many surprises once you get your kiddos settled with overpriced popcorn and ICEEs at the theater.
Based on the information provided, I think it’s safe to say that PG-13 for Welcome to Marwen is fair. I wouldn’t recommend taking any child younger than 13, and for those over 13, I think it’s a judgement call that rests on parents who know their kids, and can approach the touchy subject matter in a way they’re comfortable with.
The one thing I think all parents can do to redeem any surprises or uncertainties that come with any film, is address them head on. You may not be expecting what comes on the screen, but it’s important that we as parents are intentional with our conversations, and we communicate well with our kids about the subject matter of any film.