‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’ Movie Review: Jenny Slate Comedy Packs Big Laughs and Emotions Into a Tiny Package

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is joyous, authentic, and pure. Writer/director Dean Fleischer-Camp successfully balances comedy and drama, but never allows one to overshadow the other. This shell’s wild journey has the innate ability to make the audience laugh, cry, and reflect over the course of a brisk 89 minutes.

‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’ takes a small shell on a big adventure

'Marcel the Shell With Shoes On' Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) standing on top of a record player
Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) | A24

Dean (Fleischer-Camp) recently moved into an Airbnb in between living arrangements. He meets a shell named Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate), who lives in the home along with his grandmother, Connie (Isabella Rossellini). However, they have to be resourceful to survive after the rest of their shell community disappeared along with previous residents.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On follows Dean, as he decides to make a documentary about the shell and his grandmother. However, he could never predict how this adventure will forever change his own outlook on life, family, community, and the future.

Dean Fleischer-Camp takes viewers on a journey about change, family, and community

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a film all about survival at its core. Dean discovers that Marcel and Connie only have one another to rely on, missing a whole loving community. As a result, the two shells had to get resourceful to ensure their survival. Marcel has a deep fear of change, but nevertheless, he’s thrust into an adventure that will force him to confront his own insecurities to pursue the chance at a better life.

Meanwhile, the fear of change is also the root of Dean’s hardships, as he pursues a survival journey of his own. Marcel remains the film’s focus, but they share some of the same insecurities. Connie offers another life perspective based on her own experiences. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On highlights how each character has the tendency to fight to protect what they already have. However, Fleischer-Camp’s themes explore how change is inevitable, but we don’t need to face them alone.

Marcel’s journey is very much rooted in the modern age of Internet personalities and celebrity culture. However, Fleischer-Camp documents this social phenomenon and creates a parody of it, both of which have a place here. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On comments on this social element without ever allowing it to take over the film’s sense of adventure.

‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’ is precious and fueled with heart

'Marcel the Shell With Shoes On' Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) and Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) sitting on balls of cotton on a laptop, watching the screen, while surrounded by popcorn.
L-R: Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) and Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) | A24

Fleischer-Camp shoots Marcel the Shell With Shoes On in an interview format. Its indie aesthetic fits nicely within the A24 filmography. It successfully captures the feel of a scrappy documentary, but it has a polish to it that still makes it a fun experience on the silver screen. The shells are brought to life in an adorable way that will leave viewers around the world yearning for one of their own.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On offers exquisite voice acting from Slate and Rossellini. Their talent largely contributes to landing the film’s many well-timed jokes. Fleischer-Camp infuses the narrative with such a playful sense of wonder that is undeniably contagious. The script is full of wit, charm, and a lovable sense of humor that is simply swoon-worthy.

Fleischer-Camp’s world simply begs for more exploration over the course of its simple set-up, but he remains focused on delivering a remarkably focused story. However, his sweet film about a shell explores some deep themes, including humanity, loneliness, love, family, grief, and community. It makes the case for how we’re all part of a whole, rather than fragile pieces in this universe. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a strikingly sentimental and welcomingly funny feature that somehow leaves its audience with feelings of nostalgia for the past and optimism for the future.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On drops into theaters on June 24.

'Marcel the Shell With Shoes On' 4.0 rating graphic

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