Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021)

Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer-Camp, Isabella Rossellini, Joe Gabler,
Feature adaptation of the animated short film interviewing a mollusk named Marcel.
  • 8.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2022-09-05 Added:
  • Elisabeth Holm, Nick Paley, Writer:
  • Director:
  • Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Terry Leonard, Paul Mezey, Producer:


10 / 10

This movie will heal your heart

My cold, black, cynical core was absolutely melted by this adorable story. Given this, I believe it is truly impossible to watch this film and still hold negativity in your soul by the time the credits roll.

Jaw-droppingly fluid stop-motion animation adds such a vibrant life to the world of Marcel the shell and his grandmother. It feels lived-in, yet at the same time, lonely, and this production design adds a great deal to Marcel's emotional journey.

The comedy is constant and absolutely spectacular. The witty dialogue takes jabs at the oddities of both human and "shell" behavior, but also often carries a surprisingly poignant depth that I did not expect.

Marcel's world is small, and thus the things he finds joy in are small. I don't think I have ever seen a film so effectively portray the beauty of the "little things" in life.

This is a film with such a pervasive sense of gratitude for the gift of life-for the gift of opportunities to change, progress, and grow that we are often presented with in this life. It's a story about family and the necessity of the simple sharing of experiences with other people.

Coming out of the theater, I felt such a profound sense of love for the people around me and for the beautiful things both natural and man-made in this world. And if giving someone a feeling like that isn't the mark of a master artist, I don't know what is.

It's a masterpiece of creativity and simplicity. It's one of the best films of the year.

8 / 10

a lovable and witty mollusk

Greetings again from the darkness. For proof that social media and the internet can be used for good, I offer as evidence this film from writer-director Dean Fleisher-Camp and co-writers Elizabeth Holm, Nick Paley, and Jenny Slate. The first 'Marcel' short film hit the internet in 2010 and was such a hit that there were two follow-up short films and a best-selling picture book. Now expanded to a feature length film of 90 minutes, the innovative and curious premise holds up due to the fully-formed character of a precious one-googly-eyed mollusk shell wearing ... yes ... shoes.

Why do we connect with Marcel? Well, the instantly recognized voice created by Jenny Slate plays a huge part. There is a welcoming innocence in the wispy tone, and when combined with the exceptional writing, the result is a relatable character full of warmth and wit, and pain and humor. Marcel is na?ve, yet persistent. He's someone we like and pull for. The story is told via faux-documentary as a filmmaker (played by director Fleisher-Camp) stays in the Airbnb where Marcel lives with his aging grandmother Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). During interviews, we learn that Marcel longs for his family and community that was disrupted when the home's original owners broke up and moved out. Since then, Marcel has looked after his grandmother and helped her tend the garden. They have been quite creative in their use of household resources, including a tennis ball for transportation.

The filmmaker posts the interviews online and soon Marcel has a huge following, giving him hope that his family can be tracked down. This leads to a terrific "60 Minutes" segment with journalist Leslie Stahl. The best description I can offer of Marcel is adorable - not a word I use very often. Marcel forces us to view the world through a child's eye, but it's important to note, that while young children may find Marcel cute, the dialogue, wit, and life issues covered will be way over their heads (though not offensive in the least). Young kids (under 10) should probably stick to the shorts. The sad and painful context is balanced by sweetness and optimism. Marcel's story inspires us to embrace all stages of life with an open heart and mind - dealing with grief and sadness, while coming out the other side with spirit intact.

A24 specializes in distributing innovative and creative movies, and this certainly qualifies. It's not really a mockumentary because it's not mocking anything. The stop-motion approach in documentary style may initially seem like whimsy, but we quickly realize it's more substantive. Individual strength and the power of community are on full display, and somehow Marcel the Shell teaches us ... while wearing shoes.

Opens in theaters on July 8, 2022.

8 / 10

Absolutely Adorable

"Sometimes I find my mind wandering, thinking, "What would my family think?" Do you think they could be out there?"

Marcel, an adorable one-inch-tall shell living alone with his grandmother Connie seek to find their long-lost community with the help of a documentary filmmaker. Based on the widely popular YouTube series, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On revives the adorable shell in what is quite possibly the most adorable movie ever. I remember watching the YouTube videos a few times, but it was never something I fell for. However, this film re-introduced me to the world of Marcel and had me caring for every second of the runtime. For such a simple and silly idea, this film exceeds in sharing a heartfelt story. Everything about it is wholesome. For those who aren't familiar with the original shorts, the film easily updates those and throws easter eggs around. The script is incredibly funny. There would be times that we'd miss a few sentences into the next thing because the audience was laughing at the last thing. Some of the humor won't land with everyone because it's such a strange tone, but all of it worked for me. I thought it was written very well. There are emotionally gripping lines and thought provoking inquiries. It's one of those movies that makes you reflect on your own life and happiness.

Jenny Slate has never been better. Obviously this is just voice acting as a small shell, but this feels like the role that will define her career. We also have the talents of Isabella Rossellini and writer/director Dean Fleischer-Camp acting. Rossellini's character is incredibly well written and brings an emotional aspect to the film. I know it's not voice acting, but there's one really beautiful moment she has that's been playing through my head for the past week now. I like that Dean Fleischer-Camp acted in this because it gives it an intimate and unique angle to filmmaking. One of the most striking elements is the cinematography. I thought it was beautifully shot and does more than you'd think. Also, the score was very unique and I can't wait for them to release it. There are a few moments strewn about that didn't quite land. Sometimes it moves a little too fast with some montages in the beginning. Other times, it doesn't feel like we've stayed on the moment long enough. Still, you cannot deny the power these little shells hold on the story. I really loved Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. I can see this becoming a comfort movie for me and an instant crowd hit.

7 / 10

Whimsical and poignant

Touching and cute, and surprisingly, didn't feel padded out to stretch it to feature length. Both Jenny Slate and Isabella Rossellini created characters whom you care about.

I did have some trouble understanding some of the words Marcel was saying, not a problem I've ever had with Jenny Slate in her other movies. It might have been the sound system in the theater; other people had the same problem.

If you are at all whimsy-tolerant, this is a move worth seeing.

10 / 10

OMG Marcel the ?? is so damn adorable!!

This was so cute, touching, heart warming, wholesome, funny, and everything I had hoped for. I caught myself both laughing and in tears the entire movie.

SIFF 2022 Watch #4.