The summer movie season is synonymous with big characters. Just this summer alone we got the likes of Doctor Strange, Maverick, Buzz Lightyear, and Elvis Presley on the big screen, characters whose popularity and stature can barely fit on screen. But possibly the best character of summer 2022 is someone we have never met before and someone who is far from a giant.
His name is Marcel. He is a soft-spoken seashell with pink shoes and a small piece of lint as a pet. Marcel roams around a home that is usually rented out for Air BnB’s with his grandmother, Connie, an older seashell. Despite being small in size, Marcel is big in personality and heart. He is incredibly resourceful and has found ways to make life easier for him and his grandmother, like climbing the walls by using the stickiness of honey or by using a tennis ball to help get from place to place inside the house. Marcel cooks, cleans, and does everything for him and Connie to have an easy-going existence.
Most of the time when the house has Air BnB guests, Marcel goes unnoticed and just goes about his business with Connie. But when one guest, Dean, notices Marcel, he starts to form a bond with him. He documents how Marcel lives his life and finds out that despite Marcel’s quirky humor and resourcefulness, Marcel’s actual want in life is to be reunited with the rest of his family who were taken away from him when the owners of the home moved out. Dean then gets the idea of putting a video up of Marcel explaining his story, which sets the internet ablaze with people wanting to help Marcel and be part of his journey.
Based on his 2010 short film of the same name, director/co-writer Dean Fleischer-Camp, who plays Dean in the movie, has made an absolutely delightful journey about a mollusk in search of his family. From the opening moments when we are introduced to Marcel, you immediately fall in love with him. Jenny Slate voices Marcel in what is bound to be one of the great vocal performances of the year. She brings life and a unique voice and gives Marcel a real personality filled with humor, heart, and sadness. Beyond being adorable and hilarious, with numerous zingers and jokes, watching Marcel’s day-to-day life and seeing how hard he works and how crafty he is around the house fills your heart and makes you root for Marcel to find his family.
The greatest strength of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is the film’s simplicity. Adapting the film from a four-minute short into a 90-minute film, Fleischer-Camp doesn’t fill the film with unnecessary plot points or B-stories. He makes sure to keep the focus of the film on Marcel and his journey. This is a film about Marcel being reunited with his family, but it is also a film chronicling Marcel’s maturity and growth through the journey and understanding his worthwhile also finding the importance of putting yourself out there and the niceness of people. The film does touch slightly on the effects of social media in today’s world, both the good and the bad, but in a world where it feels like we are constantly at odds with each and nobody seems to trust or believe in anyone else, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a movie about trust in humanity and kindness and how far those two things can take you in this big world.
Marcell the Shell with Shoes On is a perfect film for both kids and adults. Everyone will fall in love with the little mollusk from California and root for him as he tries to find his family and grow into the shell he is worthy of being.
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