Sometimes, I really can walk into a movie with high expectations, but in the case of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, can you blame me?
Afterall, it isn’t easy getting a score of 98% on Rottentomatoes with over a hundred reviews (not to mention a 92% audience score with over 500 reviews), nor to be a film based off of a series of short films. Add in the fact that the film is literally about a living breathing Shell trying to find his family and it is no wonder one could consider this film nothing short of a long shot.
Yet the film works, because of how much care and heart the creators (Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer Camp) inject into the title character (voiced by Slate). Marcel lives a standard life of sorts for a shell, which is documented by the recently divorced Dean (played by Camp). Aside from Dean, the only other entity around to talk to (aside from Alan, his pet ball of lint) is his Grandma, Nana Connie (Isabella Rosselini). Their lives consist of gardening (of sorts), transportation through a tennis ball, and (most importantly) watching Lesley Stahl on 60 minutes. Eventually, a series of events is revealed as to how Marcel lost the rest of his family, and the steps (and social media support) he must acquire to possibly find them again.
One of the many touching things about the film is the relationship between Marcel and Dean. Both have there past traumas, yet are still somehow willing to help each other just by lending an ear (or whatever it is that a shell lends). I am reminded of last year’s thrilling underseen gem on Netflix (hard to believe, but they do have good movies on there if you look) called The Guilty, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. By the end, the theme of that movie is as clear as daylight: Hurt people help hurt people.
It is also somewhat ironic when you realize that Slate and Camp were once married.
Parents, I truly want to just say see the PG rating as a technicality and leave it at that. That way, you won’t have to feel possibly “weirded out” about the film’s overall premise. Take it from me: this film is indeed a delight for any age willing to spend a mere hour and a half in the theater. No swearing, no sexual material, no violence. Just some minor dramatic moments.
You know how rare it is when a film that is clearly animated is working so well you forget you are watching animation? I can honestly say I can’t remember when I felt that until I saw this film. You will be hard pressed to see a more charming film this year.
The best of reasons to see this film is the reason why Marcel says he likes smiling all the time.
“Uh, because it’s worth it.”