Whenever I see the A24 name attached to a film, I know it’s something I have to see. The production company got behind Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (out this Friday, June 24th), so of course I cleared my plans and headed out to a preview. If you’re not familiar with Marcel, an anthropomorphic shell with sneakers and a googly eye, you need to go meet him and hear his message! He’s the best!
Marcel was first introduced to the world back in 2010 via a short film created by director Dean Fleischer-Camp (who also stars in this full-length) and actress/writer Jenny Slate (the voice of Marcel). The documentary style concept shows Marcel talking about daily life as a shell, his hopes, his hobbies. It was awarded Best Animated Short at AFI Fest 2010, was an official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. That means…Marcel needs more screen time!
And he gets it in this new Marcel the Shell with Shoes On release. The audience, who may not be familiar with Marcel at this point, learns that he lives with his grandmother, Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and their pet lint, Alan, in a single-family home turned Airbnb after the previous tenants move out. He’s discovered by Dean (yes, the very Dean who created the character of Marcel), a new long-term renter. Marcel and his grandmother welcome the new company and reveal the tragedy that resulted in the two of them being all alone in the house. With Deans help, Marcel comes out of his shell (oh, I had to throw that in there) and takes to the internet in order to search for his family. He knows they’re out there!
The full-length Marcel reminds us of the powers of social media- both good and bad. Marcel gains a following and his YouTube and TikTok audiences turn into a community to help him. Even the real Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes is fascinated with this unique story and helps bring people together for Marcel.
Kids will enjoy this adorable little character and everyone- no matter what age- will walk out of the theater with Marcel’s messages and positivity stuck to them. Marcel encourages creativity (wait until you see how he gets fruit off a tree outside, how he travels around his big human-sized house, or what he uses to climb up walls), a glass-half-full attitude, and remains brave even when he’s a bit scared. He knows the power of family and friends, and the perseverance it takes to bring people together for something good.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is something good. And you can see him on the big screen now. Finally!