Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022) is a film that oozes optimism and good-willed humor with so much love. It is the best medicine for the cynical and nihilistic world we find ourselves living in at this point. Marcel reminds us of the importance of community and acceptance in an enjoyable comedic film. This original concept is a beaming example of the power of storytelling and giving artists freedom to explore ideas through unique avenues.
Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp, who is also the writer and director) meets Marcel the Shell with Shoes on (Jenny Slate who is a co-writer), and her grandmother, Connie (Isabella Rossellini), while staying at an AirBnB. Dean interviews Marcel and posts the short documentary on YouTube. It’s not long before Marcel goes viral, and he wants to use his newfound fame to locate his community of shells that were taken when the original owner of the house he lives in left.
There is an abundance of cuteness in this film. Marcel is innocent, and lives a fairly simple existence focused upon taking care of the last family he has – Connie. Rossellini has been a talented onscreen presence many times before. Her voice performance in this film is absolutely incredible. Rossellini brings so much emotion, wisdom, and love to her character through her line reads. It doesn’t feel like a vocal performance, and it left me with a feeling of pure admiration for her – and the character that embodied her voice. Not to downplay the incredible performance that Slate gave – who already has such a distinctive voice, as you can’t hear her in Marcel’s voice at all. It is a fully realized character that Slate and Fleischer-Camp deliver in this film, and Marcel is absolutely lovable.
I was stunned at the amount of full-on laughs this movie managed to get out of me and the other critics at our screening. There are jokes in this film that I’ve already started using in my normal day-to-day conversations – and, of course, many people have yet to experience the wonder that Marcel the Shell is, so they will have no clue as to what I’m referencing. I hope that one day they will, because “hearty hairs” is too funny of a line to not become the colloquial term. The jokes land well with assistance from the interesting set pieces the film presents. While most of the movie takes place in the house, each room and the furniture in it present alternate settings, as the house is a microcosm of the world – and Marcel inhabits all of it. Whether it’s ice skating or collecting fruit, Marcel has figured out how to survive and make the most of his existence in his world. This helps make, the few moments where they leave the house all the more impactful and comical. Sometimes, we have to zoom out of our world to remember how tiny we really are.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is definitely a Must See film, and one of my favorites of 2022. It will be one that is easy to watch and one that you can show the whole family. There are so many reasons to recommend this movie. I find it incredible that this movie doesn’t attempt to explain Marcel and how he is able to move or speak, yet it all works so well. As soon as you are able to see Marcel, do yourself a favor and watch it.