‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ review: 90 minutes of wellness
If heartfelt summer comedy sounds like something the doctor ordered, then a healthy dose of “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is just what you need.
The 90-minute film, which has a limited release June 24 and opens in Phoenix theaters July 8, is a meticulously crafted mockumentary that spanned seven years and uses both stop motion and live action. to tell the story of Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate).
He’s part shell, he explains, but he’s also got shoes and a face — really just a googly eye and mouth — and a confidence that belies his small size.
“I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well,” he explains in a video that eventually went viral on YouTube.
Marcel’s documentarian Dean Fleischer Camp — who is also the co-creator of the original series and the director of this film — is a longtime guest at the Airbnb in Los Angeles that Marcel and his grandmother, Nana Connie (voice of Isabella Rossellini) , are squatting.
And Dean’s interest in his subject goes beyond a fascination with a 1-inch anthropomorphic shell that sleeps between two slices of white bread in his “dining room” (get it?) and has ingenious ideas about way to use everyday household items to make life as a shell easier.
It turns out that Dean and Marcel are learning to put on one shoe after another after suffering a loss.
How ‘Marcel the Shell’ went from viral videos to independent film
Like the actual “Marcel the Shell” shorts, Dean’s YouTube clips of Marcel’s life go viral in “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”.
The original video “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”, which has 32.5 million views and more, released on YouTube on October 16, 2010. Prior to that, he appeared on Vimeo on August 16, 2010. Two follow-up shorts, a children’s book and more than a decade later, the feature film expands the story of the shell with a colorful tale of a creature that learned not just to survive but to thrive after loss.
Marcel’s real inspiration came from a short film that Fleischer Camp made at the last minute for a comedy show using materials that cost him $6.
Inspired by a “little, little voice that came out of me” that Slate had envisioned when the two shared a cramped hotel room, Fleischer Camp recorded an interview with Slate playing this new character.
Forty-eight hours later, “Marcel la Coquille” was born.
’60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl Becomes a Divine Figure
In the feature film adaptation, Dean meets Marcel and Nana Connie when he moves into an Airbnb after a breakup. The filmmaker begins to document Marcel’s life, which consists of twirling around the house in a tennis ball, shaking loquats from a tree with a rope connected to an electric beater and taking care of his grandmother, who seems to have memory loss.
Along the way, Dean discovers that Marcel and Nana Connie are the only remnants of a vibrant community that lived inside the house. Two years ago, their family (also in the shape of a shell) and their neighbors (who come in all sorts of shapes, such as nuts, puffs of Cheeto and spools of yarn) were all robbed after the couple who previously resided there had a stroke. -out of combat. The boyfriend left with his things and unwittingly took most of the community members with him as they had been squatting in his clothes drawer.
Dean’s mission becomes clear: it’s time to exploit Marcel’s viral fame for good and try to find his family.
Marcel and Nana Connie’s idol, journalist Lesley Stahl — yes, the one you see weekly on ’60 Minutes’ — gets involved even when it becomes clear that social media users are more interested in taking selfies and filming TikToks at Marcel than helping out.
Internet fame helps Marcel and Nana Connie understand that the world extends beyond their backyard: “It’s so big,” says Nana Connie. But it doesn’t take long for the seashells to discover that sometimes online engagement doesn’t equate to real-life change.
In other words, “It’s an audience. It’s not a community” — which is a valid, jaded sentiment, but perhaps not one that matches the film’s generally upbeat flow.
‘Marcel the Shell’ is fun for adults and children
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” works best when it’s unexpectedly funny due to Marcel’s naivety. Like “Toy Story” or “A Bug’s Life”, “Marcel the Shell” inspires you to take a closer look at non-sentient objects or creatures in your life and let your imagination create colorful worlds for them.
There are plenty of ‘aw’-worthy moments throughout, but they’re heartfelt, not just due to cuteness overload. Marcel does not appear as the face of a lucrative franchise.
It’s not a Minion or a Porg or similar animated character whose merchandise racks up billions of dollars — it’s just Marcel.
And Marcel’s story is one of stepping out of his comfort zone, allowing a family member to age gracefully, and picking himself up after a devastating loss. It’s about making the most of what life has to offer.
‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ 4 stars
Awesome ★★★★★ Good ★★★★
Correct ★★★ Bad ★★ Bomb ★
Director: Dean FleischerCamp.
Cast: Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Isabella Rossellini.
To note: Limited release June 24. In theaters in Phoenix on July 8.
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