Marcel The Shell With Shoes On
review by Drusilla Blakey
Based on a series of short films by the same name, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, is a heartwarming look into the true meaning of family and the struggle to find your place in the world. And yes, it follows a little shell - but that doesn't make this story less impactful. In fact, it makes the story that much more accessible and open to the whole family. Please note that you do not need to have seen the short films to watch this movie. However, if you have, you will find some special Easter egg moments throughout the movie.
As you see in the trailer, Marcel lives alone with his grandmother because his family has gone missing. As the film unfolds you find out why and how his family has been separated and it's actually very sad and unfortunately relevant. What I love about this movie is that it's not afraid to deal with heavy and difficult topics in spite of it being a family film. I was able to watch this movie at a special screening and it included a special Q&A with Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp and they specifically addressed how they wanted to tell a story that dealt with real subject matter without hiding anything. Ms. Slate stated that kids experience loss and issues just as adults do and if you hide it from them, you teach them that they shouldn't talk about; and this is far from true.
For me, multiple themes and subject matters were very apparent and I hope that everyone watching the movie will be open and willing to 'see it' as well, and not just see a silly movie about a shell. Love, relationships, being alone, loss, death, loneliness, elder care, the meaning of life, finding your place in the world, dealing with social media, and much more are explored in the film and honestly, having Marcel, who is so pure and innocent, trying to understand and find meaning in it
all, helps guide the viewer through this immense and emotional journey. There are several heart felt and moving moments in the film as well as some great laugh out loud moments that I believe all will enjoy.
Another theme that stood out to me is the wonderful spotlight on uplifting individuals with disabilities. Throughout the movie, we see the clever ways that Marcel and his grandmother have to navigate the human world. They have created interesting and sometimes funny ways of getting around, getting food, and their determination to make it on their own. The most poignant for me is a moment when Marcel puts out a plea to the 'internet' hoping to find his missing family members but instead goes 'viral' and has crazed fans showing up outside the house day and night. Marcel starts reading the comments, sees the behavior and realizes "this isn't a community, it's a following" and it's not the same thing - so enlightened!
Finally, the most amazing thing is the animation of the film and how seamlessly it fits into the 'real world'. I was surprised to find out Marcel was made with stop motion animation. It seems to flow so wonderfully and beyond anything else, Marcel and his world are so creative and fun. This movie is truly a joy to watch; I hope you will think so too.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including an 80 page booklet, a making-of featurette, filmmaker commentary, and the original Marcel shorts. Grab your copy of Marcel The Shell With Shoes On available now on digital, 4K and Blu-ray from A24.