Top 10 Reasons to See Marcel the Shell with Shoes On



Top 10 Reasons to See Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
You NEED to see "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On." For this list, we'll be looking at why Marcel's feature debut is a must-see for the whole family. Our countdown includes A24's First Family Film, it's a touching story about family, Jenny Slate's voiceover performance, and more!
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Reasons to See Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Reasons to See Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.

For this list, we’ll be looking at why Marcel’s feature debut is a must-see for the whole family.

Have you seen “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On?” Let us know in the comments.

#10: How It Expands Upon the Original Shorts

Confident that her first season on “SNL” would be her last, Jenny Slate contemplated what to do next. Staying at a motel with her then-romantic partner Dean Fleischer-Camp and friends, the stressed Slate did a little voice. Fleischer-Camp saw potential for a project, gluing a shell and shoes together. With Slate providing the voice and co-writing, Marcel was born, becoming a viral sensation. Marcel inspired two additional shorts and storybooks, but it’d take over a decade for the little shell to get the feature treatment. The film is faithful to the tone of the shorts while bringing more depth to this world. The way social media is woven into the plot is also clever, showing the advantages of YouTube and downsides of online fame.

#9: A24’s First Family Film

A24 has risen up as the premiere studio for auteur-driven, independent projects. “Marcel with the Shell” is a first for the studio, marking their foray into family-friendly features. “Marcel” is well-suited for the A24 brand, as we imagine a media giant like Disney would either deem it too strange or go into IP overdrive. At the same time, “Marcel” encompasses the heart of a Pixar film and the beautiful simplicity of a Hayao Miyazaki picture. Ironically, many Millenials who saw the short in 2010 now have children they can enjoy this film with. Kids will fall in love with the irresistible protagonist. Even if you don’t accompany a kid, though, adults will be engrossed by its humor, craft, and universal charm.

#8: Its Ordinary Yet Extraordinary World

Slate and Fleischer-Camp filmed the original short in their apartment, creating a world out of everyday items. Their feature adaptation primarily takes place around the house with a tennis ball serving as a mode of transportation, honey allowing Marcel to walk on walls, and bread being used as a bed. Although we’ve seen other films create tiny worlds within larger worlds, there’s something especially ordinary about Marcel’s domain that makes it oddly extraordinary. The simplicity of this world triggers the imagination, making the audience appreciate the little things in life. It transports us back to childhood when we’d take our toys on grand adventures without even leaving our rooms. There’s also arguably a subtle message about respecting the little environments we often stomp all over.

#7: The Blending of Live-Action & Animation

The shorts were brought to life through stop-motion animation. The feature also primarily relies on stop-motion techniques, and while the movements are much smoother, the filmmakers wisely maintain some of the rough edges that made the shorts so appealing. Meanwhile, the environments remain live-action. Although we could’ve seen “Marcell” working as a fully-animated film, the use of real settings and human characters gives the world a normal, lived-in sentiment that might not have the same effect in another medium. “Marcel” thus demonstrates the strengths of live-action and animation, blending the two in innovative ways. We’re not sure if “Marcel” meets the Academy’s criteria for Best Animated Feature consideration, but no matter how you categorize it, this is one of the year’s most delightful films.

#6: Marcel Is Adorable & So Is His Film

A shell, small shoes, and a googly eye. It doesn’t sound like much, but with these items, Fleischer-Camp fashioned one of the most adorable characters ever to hit the internet and now cinemas. Of course, Slate’s vocal contributions elevated Marcel’s cute factor, giving him a soft-spoken innocence that melts your heart with every word he says. Equally adorable are Marcel’s interactions with Fleischer-Camp, who serves as the director within the film’s context and in reality. The film matches Marcel’s sincerity, creating a world that doesn’t have any villains. The narrative is simply Marcel living his life and when your central character is this charming, that can be surprisingly fascinating. Marcel has endless marketing potential, but he possesses far more depth than any corporate mascot.

#5: Isabella Rossellini as Marcel’s Grandmother

Isabella Rossellini has been giving bold performances for decades, most notably in
David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” We can’t imagine that Rossellini ever thought one of her best performances would be as an aging shell. Yet, Rossellini brings warmth and genuineness to Nana Connie, Marcel’s grandmother. They may be shells, but the film tells a human story about a young person coping with their grandparent’s declining health. It’s established early on that Connie is suffering from memory loss. Although Marcel wishes to take care of her, Connie is just as determined to secure her grandson’s future with the little time she has left. While she can’t do much, Connie imparts a wise lesson about not being afraid to take chances. You can’t spend your life sheltered.

#4: Jenny Slate’s Voiceover Performance

Slate has established herself as a voiceover chameleon, playing Dawn Bellwether in “Zootopia,” Harley Quinn in “The Lego Batman Movie,” and Gidget in “The Secret Life of Pets.” Marcel might be the character closest to Slate’s heart, which shines through in her performance. In her everyday life, Slate has used the Marcel voice when she’s having a hard time. Marcel fits the bill of somebody who feels small and struggles to come out of their shell. At the same time, Slate uses the voice when she’s trying to motivate herself. Marcel’s voice might be little, but it's inspiring enough to make anybody reach for the stars. Slate’s performance will have you laughing, crying, and occasionally even forgetting that a shell is triggering these deep emotions.

#3: Marcel’s Dialogue Will Make You Crack Up & Think

Fleischer-Camp has compared “Marcel the Shell” to Aardman’s Oscar-winning “Creature Comforts,” a mockumentary short that applied recorded conversations to stop-motion zoo animals. Marcel’s dialogue has a similar authenticity that sounds like something a little kid would say off the top of their head. Sometimes it’s random, other times it’s naive, and on occasion, it’s surprisingly profound. Slate and Fleischer-Camp spent about five years improvising the dialogue while making scene animatics. The ad-libbing captures the hilarious spontaneity you’d anticipate from a documentary or a home movie, especially when a child is the subject. For all the silly one-liners, there’s a fair amount of insight to be found in Marcel’s commentary. It goes to show that wisdom and innocence are sometimes closer than we realize.

#2: It’s a Touching Story About Family

Fans have wanted a “Marcel” movie for years, but how do you turn a three-minute short into a feature? The film essentially starts as a more polished version of the shorts, but it isn’t long until “Marcel” becomes a richer experience. It’s revealed that most of Marcel’s family has disappeared, sending him on a journey to find them and his confidence. The setup has the essence of a Don Bluth movie, but instead of traveling through New York or to the Great Valley, Marcel rarely leaves the house. The smaller scale maintains the quaint charms of its viral source material. However, the personal themes make the film feel bigger than anything that’s come before, warranting its place on the silver screen.

#1: You’re Going to Get Choked Up

Five minutes into “Marcel the Shell,” you’re probably going to say, “This is really cute,” or, “this is really weird.” Either way, you’re going to need tissues by the conclusion. As unconventional as the film might seem, Marcel’s character arc will hit home for many viewers. Like Marcel, we’ve spent the past couple of years cooped up in one place, separated from family members. Chances are you’ve also recently lost someone or confronted the cruel nature of mortality. This film is a relatable meditation on grief, helping us to cope, pick up the pieces, and emerge with a stronger shell. The film will have you ugly-crying and happy-crying, but it’ll ultimately leave you feeling grateful for the little moments shared with loved ones.