24 July 2024
Marcel The Shell. Out now in UK cinemas

Film Review – Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (2022)

How could you not love this shell? Like the trailers and posters, they say everybody loves the shell…Marcel The Shell With Shoes On.

The American audiences did in 2022

Universal Pictures and A24 Films bring Dean Fleischer-Camp’s feature length debut to UK cinemas. Going by the reviews it seems most of the UK critics adore everything they have seen.

It’s no surprise this mockumentary potentially could win The Oscar for Best Animated feature. If we go by the EE Baftas Guillermo Del Toro might have something to say with Pinocchio.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is based on Fleischer-Camp’s 2010 Youtube stop animation hybrid short of the same name. Produced and voiced by Jenny Slate who is onboard for the feature length version.

The YouTube version was actually a series of shorts than just one. Keeping the lo-fi approach from the original shorts

Fleischer-Camp also stars in his own film as struggling filmmaker Dean. After a big argument and fell out with his wife and he moves into an Airbnb.

He also quickly discovers that he is not alone.

He finds Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate), an adorable one-inch-tall anthropomorphic shell. He’s been living there with his grandmother Connie ( Voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and their pet lint, Alan.

Marcel and his granny where once part of a sprawling community of shells. Now they live alone as the sole survivors of a mysterious tragedy.

Taken with his unlikely new friend, Dean becomes so fascinated with Marcel’s story he starts filming both shells. Igniting a meteoric rise to internet fame that changes their lives forever.

But will Marcel’s newfound sense of possibility and a throng of superfans be enough to track down his long-lost family?

The one thing this reminds us off, is Ardman Animation’s Creature Comforts. This film seems to be more interested in what our little shell is doing between shoots. The original short played more on the comedy, the aspects of Marcel’s daily life.

The charm is heavy and we expect no less from this. It’s living up to what it’s saying on the tin (or poster this time) ‘Everybody loves the shell’.

There is a big inspiration from Mary Norton’s classic Children’s book The Borrowers. The little becomes very inventive in how he lives and explorers the surroundings. Including a tennis ball to travel around, birthday candles for lamps and slices of bread for a bed.

Marcel adores the long running News magazine show 60 Minutes. Thanks to Dean posting his footage online, those video great millions of hits. 60 minutes get in touch and interview the young shell.

It’s actually hard to figure out who exactly is the targeted audience. Many have said it’s children, it feels more older possibly young adult. It would need more slapstick shenanigans to keep the young ones intrigued, despite the 90 minute running time.

The adults will smile or even laugh at some of the jokes. The humour isn’t crude or rude just the children might miss the mark.

There is a few ‘grown up’ issues on play here to, like Nana Connie’s dementia. Whilst children may not understand the ins and outs of the horrible disease. They do sense something is wrong, making this a ‘missed’ opportunity to educate a little.

Ironically the human story that plays in the background, one could say Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is a biography of sorts for Fleischer-Camp. Both him and Jenny Slate where married at one time and divorced in 2016. Like the ‘grown up issues’ the film only scratches the surface and doesn’t delve into things with more depth.

Using vérité-style for dialogue that’s tragicomic . Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is a film designed for the social media generation. It’s quirky, funny at times, overloaded with charm and emotion, might just be a bit too twee for some.

★★★


Animation, Comedy | USA, 2022 | PG | Cinema | Universal Pictures UK | 17th February 2023 (UK) | Dir. Dean Fleischer-Camp | Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer-Camp


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