Marcel the Shell with shoes on2022.
Dean Fleischer Camp directs.
With Jenny Slate, Dean Fleischer-Camp, Isabella Rossellini, Thomas Mann, Rosa Salazar, Lesley Stahl, Nathan Fielder, Andy Richter, Sarah Thyre, Jessi Klein and Peter Bonerz.
Feature adaptation of the animated short interviewing a mollusk named Marcel.
You don’t see that every day: A24 for the whole family.
Based on a YouTube series (Both were directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp with Jenny Slate co-writing and providing the voice of the undeniably cute mollusk named Marcel, here joined by other writers including Elizabeth Holm and Nick Paley). Marcel the Shell with shoes on appears to be taking the webisode structure and converting it into a fully realized, feature-length narrative form. Creators Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate run the gamut of emotions, ranging from hysterical laughter, surprisingly poignant thematic moments, and heartbreaking devastation that also quickly puts the heart back together in logically understandable ways. Perhaps most of all, it’s refreshing to see stop-motion animation regaining the spotlight while also being beautifully blended with live-action, hopefully encouraging younger viewers to broaden their horizons beyond the CGI that regularly inflates multiplexes.
Since I wasn’t part of this YouTube sensation, Marcel the Shell with shoes on indeed came with an extra pinch of charm for this reviewer. Voiced by Jenny Slate, he is a 1 inch tall, anthropomorphic, talking seashell with an enlarged eyeball and a pair of red shoes that would make Sonic the Hedgehog jealous. He lives with his grandmother, Connie (Isabella Rossellini), who found a way to tend a garden with a fork (to give you an idea of how imaginatively detailed these lives are). There were more grenades, too, until a quarreling couple got into another verbal argument, breaking up for good and starting a chain of events that separated Marcel and Connie from their clan.
The above events have led to the house being turned into an Airbnb (many of the jokes involve fish out of water teaching Marcel certain things, except it’s funny here), where the film’s director, Dean Fleischer-Camp , has taken up residence and is making up for the lack of social life by documenting Marcel, which inevitably leads to YouTube fame. And while the jokes are consistently funny (it’s amazing how Jenny Slate can pause between heartbreaking lines just to deliver another punchline, which sometimes happens up to three times in a row and gets everyone laughing), once Marcel the Shell with shoes on into a story about what makes a positive community without losing its comedic spine, that’s when the plot starts to get great.
In typical social media fashion, people become obsessed with Marcel. But not with finding his family. No, they care more about finding his current home and taking selfies outside to further their insipid interests and online popularity gains. It hurts Marcel so much that he gets scared when his favorite show offers him a chance to 60 minutesto conduct an interview that could provide new leads to reunite him with his family.
However, this is definitely not a plot-centric film; most Marcel the Shell with shoes on is to follow his everyday life (complete with the goofy documentary interviews in which the subject and filmmaker lovingly tease each other) and the whimsical existence he eke out with his last remaining family member. It’s about how life changes, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better. Jenny Slate’s voiceover performance is endlessly charming and I genuinely hope this becomes an A24 franchise.
Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★★★★ / Movie: ★★★★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]