Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a story of friendship and exploration. When documentarian Dean Fleischer Camp temporarily moves into an AirBnB he’s surprised to learn that the property has residents. Marcel (Jenny Slate)—a small anthropomorphic shell with a googly eye and a pair of sneakers—has been living there with his Nana Connie (Isabella Rossellini). The two have figured out how to survive and enjoy life on their own now that their extended family has disappeared. Dean, curious about Marcel, begins to film his comedic activities such as using a tennis ball for a car and battling away Dean’s dog. Eventually, Dean posts the videos online for the world to enjoy which become a huge success. And as the two become friends, Marcel and Dean find that they can help each other in very profound ways.
What works in Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is the phenomenal heart and humor in the story. Slate (Parks and Recreation, Everything Everywhere All at Once) provides such depth to Marcel, he truly comes to life and it will be easy for audiences to become emotionally invested in his story. Camp, who also serves as the writer and director, crafts a very funny and profound narrative. It would be easy just to watch Marcel get into sticky or comedic situations for 90 minutes (and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments), but Camp goes well beyond these. He balances the silliness with strong messages about dealing with life’s twists and turns. At the heart of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a story about growth that will move almost all audience members in perhaps unexpected ways.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has a very distinctive style and pacing which may not appeal to all audiences. One to first accept the rather odd reality that the entire film focuses on a small talking shell animated through stop-motion techniques. The concept alone is purposely a little weird and unusual. Furthermore, people expecting a straight-up comedy may be surprised by changes in tone. While uproariously funny, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On also slows down at many moments to become poignant and reflective. This actually strengthens the film, but some watchers may feel like the movie pace drags in places if they are expecting consistent levity.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a likely contender for Best Animated Film of 2022. Full of heart-warming charm and laughs, it comes highly recommended.
Recommended if you Enjoyed: March of the Penguins, How to Train Your Dragon
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is now available on most streaming platforms.