“Marcel The Shell With Shoes On” May Be A Little Shell, But The Film Has A Big Heart
If you’re anything like me and were concerned about the three-minute viral sensation, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”, being adapted into a full-length feature film, you can put your worries to rest.
The family comedy transcended all fears and expectations! Instead A24 presented something so ridiculously unique and beautiful that it was the perfect next step for the chatty little shell and his adventures.
My full review of “Marcel The Shell With Shoes On” …
To Keep It Short: The TL;DR Version
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” follows a one-inch shell, Marcel, and his trek to reunite with his family. Combining new and old characters, the movie is a beautiful homage to its source material while also introducing a totally unique and all-consuming storyline. It ventures into the darkness on more than one occasion. But children and adults will leave their viewings with a sense of ease and a new understanding of their place in this world.
Let’s Shell It Out
Marcel was first introduced to the masses in 2010 as a stop-motion mockumentary short about a one-inch shell and his interviews with an unnamed documentarian (nicknamed “Windy” in the sequel).
Created in collaboration with comedy queen Jenny Slate (“Parks and Recreation”, “Everything Everywhere All at Once“) and director Dean Fleischer-Camp, the franchise spun three shorts and a children’s book before being adapted into a 90-minute movie (which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival ahead of its A24 release on June 24, 2022).
An inspiring mix of stop-motion and live-action, this movie takes an already-distinctive character and brings him to life through a storyline that portrays a childlike innocence like no other. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” follows Marcel (Slate) and his search to reunite with his family following their tragic separation. He relies on his grandma Connie (Isabella Rossellini) but finds that she’s unable to keep up with him, and he’s often left to entertain himself.
Staying true to its source material, the comedy journeys on with its two co-creators reprising their leading roles and is displayed in a similar rough-cut mockumentary-style. This time, giving its documentarian (Fleischer-Camp) a heightened role. The sweet, little shell pries into the man’s private life as they both embark on a similar mission: finding a home.
Echoing the short’s success, the two characters reach viability as the documentarian uploads bits of his interviews with the creature on YouTube. Together, they recruit the help of their viewers to help locate Marcel’s family and eventually pulls the attention of the famed show 60 Minutes. The movie shines a light on the trusting relationship between the duo, the unpredictability of internet fame, and includes a fun cameo of TV investigator Lesley Stahl.
What’s the Takeaway?
“Marcel the Shell” is surprisingly a tearjerker that doesn’t shy away from taboo conversations. As the story plays on, the characters are forced to address the inevitability of loss—which many were unable to avoid over the last two years— and the heavy emotions that accompany it.
These topics are discussed in a way that caters to children without dumbing it down, and will comfort adults. Especially ones who have never received this talk from their own loved ones. The movie avoids losing itself in its darkness, while also refusing to put forth an unreliable sense of “everything’s gonna be okay.”
Marcel teaches everyone to just let life happen, and to not sulk or dread the future or the past. As the wise, old grandma shell explains, change will happen. It won’t always be what we want, but that won’t stop it from happening.
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is filled to the brim with tenderness! It will leave viewers feeling warm and fuzzy, and also desperate to call their therapists. The franchise’s future is bright and in the hands of creators that know Marcel and his next steps better than anyone else can predict.