Marcel the Shell with Shoes on is a title that invites you to assume the movie will be sweet and quirky, an adorable piece of fun with a nice moral typical of animated movies. The actuality of Marcel is those traits tenfold, among many, many other gutwrenching emotions.
Marcel has you on a rotation of crying, laughing, cooing, and then crying again. The film is far more advanced than posters and preconceptions would have you believe, and you’ll likely enjoy it more than you’d expect.
A fresh take on mockumentaries and on integrating stop-motion animation with the real world means Marcel the Shell with Shoes on is in a league of its own and very worthy of its several award nominations. It’s based on a series of animated shorts by the same creators which are equally worth checking out.
How is it?
Marcel is – you guessed it- a shell with shoes on, one inch tall and living in a rather large house with his nana, Connie (also a shell), and whoever the current Airbnb guest is.
On this occasion, it’s Dean (Dean Fleischer Camp), a recent divorcee and amateur filmmaker and Arthur, his dog. Upon discovering Marcel in the house, Dean decides to document the little shell’s life.
Dean collates videos of Marcel, chatting away to him about his interesting existence (which the film never once implies is abnormal) and building a friendship. In one of these conversations, we learn that Marcel and Connie are all that’s left of what was once a much larger community. With the shells’ permission, Dean uses Marcel’s growing online clout to help him find his family and resolve their loneliness.
There is comedy, love and innocence entwined in this absurd relationship between shell and human. It’s a bond that the notion of the film and its trailers don’t quite give any justice towards- but it’s charmingly sweet and comical, as well as being bizarrely edifying.
Surprisingly, it seems to be tailored for an older audience- especially with the humour-, which allows for some real thought-provoking moments and depth regarding the young mollusc’s life.
This film has beauty in the script, the characters, and the composition of the camera’s frame – not to mention the actual plot itself. There is something for everyone to appreciate. It’s also A24’s first stab at truly family-friendly content and, like most of the studio’s endeavours, they delivered the film’s premise with great skill.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes on has it’s official UK cinema release on February 17. It’s definitely one to check out.
Feature Image Credit: A24 and Universal Pictures