‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ is too cute to handle



By Nina Figurelli, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Who knew a one-inch-tall monocular shell could steal the show and melt our hearts? “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” follows Marcel (Jenny Slate) and his nana, Connie (Isabella Rossellini), in a stop-motion mockumentary on a mission to reunite with their family.

The movie starts with Dean Fleischer-Camp, the director of the mockumentary, recording and interviewing Marcel about his day-to-day activities and how he adapts to his human surroundings. We then learn how Marcel and Connie live by themselves in their Airbnb due to the sudden disappearance of their family and neighbors.

The shell colony used to live in the house with a young couple, where they would mind their own business and remain unnoticed. During emergencies (which was actually when the couple was fighting), the shell protocol was to retreat to the dresser drawers. But one day during a regular “emergency”, all of the shells went to their hiding spot. Everyone except for Marcel and Connie, who were oblivious as they were watching the new airing of “60 Minutes”. Suddenly, the young man left with a suitcase and never returned. Marcel and Connie assumed that he unknowingly packed up the drawers with the shells inside them.

Dean begins posting the series of videos on YouTube, and Marcel gains recognition for his undeniable cuteness. His quick rise to fame brings him one step closer to finding his loved ones, but also leaves him with a grave fear of unexpected change. Marcel is scared of fast-paced change because the last time something this drastic happened, it resulted in his family going missing. 

Even though Marcel is a simple shell who doesn’t understand that there is a world outside his Airbnb, he still experiences all the normal stresses and emotions that humans do; he worries about his new friend Dean’s personal life, as well as the health and safety of Connie.

Although the plot was a bit slow at times, the relationship between Dean and Marcel was the highlight of the film. It was really interesting to see their friendship evolve and how Dean becomes a part of Marcel and Connie’s familial sphere. It was also lovely to see the lighthearted and comedic nature of Marcel as well as his caring and nurturing side, which we watch through his bond with Connie.

I also really loved the creativity in the film, especially when they show Marcel and his nana’s innovations for making life as a shell in the human world easier. It made the movie extra adorable, and it was amusing to see how they implemented our everyday tools and materials into their own lives.

Not to mention, the stop motion cinematography was seamless and the voices for the shells fit perfectly. The storyline may have lagged, but I was still entertained by the light humor, the simple plot and the heartwarming theme of family. 

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” reminded me of a strange combination of both “Toy Story” and “Wallace & Gromit”. Between the stop-motion animation and the talking shells in a human world, Marcel was giving strong Buzz Lightyear meets Claymation vibes.  

With that being said, this movie can definitely be a hit or a miss depending on the viewer. I suppose the cute shells aren’t for everyone, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the unusual shell animations, and I found this to be a great movie for both kids and adults alike.

Unfortunately, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is not streaming anywhere online at the moment, and it’s only showing in select theaters around Chicago, so make sure to go watch it while it’s still out!