Before this Spring I had never heard of Marcel the Shell. Evidently he first appeared in a stop-motion short by director Dean Fleischer-Camp in 2010. Then in April we got the first trailer for a Marcel feature film and I was immediately captivated. There’s something so special and endearing about Marcel and his adventures that I couldnt help but become attached. At first I wondered if there would be enough for a feature film but Fleischer-Camp and team have made a truly charming film that should win over even the world’s biggest curmudgeons.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On tells the story of the little shell creature with one eye named Marcel who has been separated from his family by a careless human home owner who takes them when he moves away. Now it is just him, his Nanna Connie and the human tenant Dean (director Dean Fleischer-Camp). When Dean decides to make a documentary Marcel’s world opens up in ways he could never imagine, even eventually being featured on his favorite show, 60 Minutes.
Jenny Slate could not be cuter as Marcel, perfectly capturing what is needed for this character to come alive. So much of the character depends on the voice due to him having only one eye and a small mouth to capture emotion. Isabella Rossellini is also great as Nanna Connie.
I’m afraid in describing Marcel the Shell with Shoes On I make it sound more saccharine than it actually is. It is a very sweet film but it is also touching, tender and made me tear up more than a few times. It touches’ on serious issues like marital discord, family loss, death, and especially loneliness.
You have to wonder if the fact Fleischer-Camp and Slate divorced in 2016 added this layer to the screenplay they worked together on with Nick Paley and Elizabeth Holm. When Marcel asks Dean about his divorce it feels more than a little prosaic.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is getting a pretty decent rollout by distributor A24 so check to see if it is at a theater near you. It’s an absolute gem.
9.5 out of 10 I’m tempted to give this a perfect score. It charmed me!
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6 thoughts on “[REVIEW] ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ or My New Comfort Watch”
I feel this will be your ‘Your Name’ for this year, lol!
I think so or my Wolfwalkers. Already trying to get everyone I know to give it a chance
The crowd I saw it with in my cozy bar theater really enjoyed it. I heard plenty of laughs and sniffles. I just couldn’t connect with it at all though. It felt hollow, emotionally manipulative and filled with empty platitudes. It was really difficult to understand Marcel and I just found him insufferable in a long format. But you know what, life is short. I’m glad so many people enjoyed it. It was unique and creative. I wished I liked it more though.
Christopher Robin felt so much more impactful to me. I think because it had a Terence Malick aesthetic and a more structured narrative. Marcel had some beautiful quieter moments (I loved the shot of the sun shining on the spider web, the dying grandmother slowly walking away into the shadows) but I wish it leaned more into them rather than drowning me in cloying continuous voiceover which grew quickly tiresome and monotonous. To each their own though. I think I would recommend You Won’t Be Alone for something I felt Marcel should have been (without the gruesome parts)
Yeah that happens sometimes. Nearly everyone loved Petit Maman and I was sitting there completely underwhelmed by it. Thanks for sharing your opinion
Of course. I really thought I would like it because I thought the premise was great. Creative heartwarming stories are hard to find as it is. I can’t think of an example like Marcel this year.
Yeah I adored it but to each their own