Marcel the Shell is pretty much something you’d find in your junk drawer. But oh this mollusk is so much more. From the creative genius of Dean Fleischer-Camp and the adorable voice from Jenny Slate, Marcel delivers heartwarming magic with creative innovations and a positive outlook.
Marcel the Shell originally started as a YouTube stop animation short project between Slate and her then boyfriend Fleischer-Camp back in 2010. In the movie, Dean, a documentary filmmaker, discovers Marcel at the airbnb he is renting and begins filming to share their story.
A small but mighty philosopher, Marcel takes us through witty commentary on life and survival with Grandma Connie (Isabella Rossellini). But what’s missing is their community – the family and friends that disappeared after the “loud people” left. With the help of Dean, and a curious sense of adventure and discovery, the two come up with a plan to find them.
Starting first with the internet, they reach out to connect with others for help. What’s most delightful is Marcel’s attitude. The consistent, gentle voice is endearing when speaking about life and the inventive ways of navigating this big house they call home. From a tennis ball rover to the strongest and hairs found in the bottom of the shower, Marcel has learned to make the best of things. With childlike understanding (and that cute voice), you can’t help but fall in love with the magic.
This works as a feature film, although it does feel like it reaches a bit beyond where it needs to. The themes of absence and longing for a sense of family or community are definitely there. But I’d rather look at it simply as a gem of filmmaking with an amusing character who gives you the warm and fuzzies with their tiny perspective on life.