A lovingly crafted, briskly paced wonder of a film, heartfelt, reflective, and unexpectedly emotional. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On does for shells what Everything Everywhere All At Once did for rocks.
Every once in a while, a film comes along that you’re so charmed by it stays with you long after the credits roll; you even recommend it to your friends and low-key scold them when they haven’t watched it after three polite reminders. Marcel The Shell with Shoes On, is that film. After the collapse of his marriage, documentary filmmaker Dean (played the film’s director Dean Fleischer Camp) tries to pick up the pieces of his life by staying at an Air BnB. However, Dean soon becomes aware that he’s not the only one staying there, a small talking shell that goes by the name of Marcel; he has one eye and an adorable tiny pair of shoes. Naturally, Dean is fascinated with Marcel, and the two strike up a friendship that inspires Dean to start filming Marcel’s daily life.
It’s not long before Dean’s videos start getting attention, and the iconic 60 Minutes show (which is beloved by Marcel’s grandmother voiced perfectly by Isabella Rossellini), wants to interview them. Based on the short 2010 film trilogy of the same name from Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer Camp, the feature version explores the concept fully while remaining true to its origins. Both the mockumentary and ‘broken person becomes whole again thanks to magical character’ genres are well-worn, so finding something new a fresh is a challenge. Thankfully, this film is full of fresh approaches that make it something to cherish. Often, the stories that feature a non-human character are the most human of stories.
The whimsical stop-motion is created by The Chiodo Brothers, who have worked on some truly cult films with four Critters, and the often overlooked Killer Klowns From Outer Space, which Stephen Chiodo directed. Beautifully made without a cynical grain of sand in its shell, this is nothing short of a little slice of loveliness that would warm even the coldest of hearts. Sometimes, it gives any Wes Anderson film a run for its money in being twee; the main character has a pet ball of lint, but Marcel The Shell is just too adorable a film not to love.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is out on DVD and Blu-ray from June 26.