‘Marcel The Shell With Shoes On’ Looks At Internet Fame And Traumatic Events With An Open Eye

I hadn’t heard of Marcel the Shell, a popular YouTube creation, until a story was done on CBS last year. Since 60 Minutes favors heavily into the plot of the movie, it seems fitting they’d mention it for publicity. But aside from that, it’s a great family movie, the likes of which aren’t seen much anymore. Maybe the first two Paddington movies give off the same balance of cuteness, humor and real-life issues, without resorting to the dumbing down of the intended audience.

The titular character is voiced by Jenny Slate, with a squeaky voice that has a lot more life and emotion to it than you’d expect. Her ex-husband, Dean Fleischer Camp, is the director, co-wrote and even appears on screen as a documentarian whose name is Dean. He moves into the vacant house and discovers Marcel and his grandmother, Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini), an aging shell with dementia. They are the only two shells that live in the house which has been turned into an AirBnB. Dean is there following the end of his marriage.

Incidentally, it was the end of a marriage or relationship that resulted in Marcel and Connie being left alone as well. The house used to have several shells including their other family members and Marcell’s mother and father. But when the previous residents began to start arguing one day, the shells mostly went and hid in the clothes in the drawer. Next thing, they know, the clothes are thrown in a suitcase and they left the house.

Marcel and Connie become friendly with Dean who takes video of them and posts it on the Internet. Very soon, Marcel is a celebrity. But he surprised by it and a bit overwhelmed. As he tries to use the videos to reach out to help people find his family, he discovers it’s all for naught as people only want to visit Marcel and be seen with him. They decide to turn to 60 Minutes and Leslie Stahl (as herself) because Marcel and Connie are big fans of the show. But Connie’s health begins to worsen as it begins to worry Marcel.

While it would be possible to make this a cynical movie on the world of Internet celebrities, fandom and influencers, Camp and Slate keep it simple. Marcel becomes reluctant when 60 Minutes wants to help because he’s worried about what that will do to Connie’s help having a big production crew there. Some people don’t seek fame and fortune and don’t want attention.

The production consists of live-action and stop-motion animation by Chiodo Bros. Production, led by Edward Chiodo as the animation producer and Stephen Chiodo as the supervising animation director. The Chiodos made the 1988 cult classic horror comedy Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Yet, you don’t have to worry about this movie scaring some younger audiences. It tackles adult situations such as death, sadness, and from what I can guess is domestic violence but it doesn’t dwell on it the way others would.

There’s a cuteness to the movie with the comedy to make you smile more than laugh. It’s a pleasant movie. The performances of Camp, Slate and Rossellini are the heart of the movie. One might not think a little shell with an eye on it would be something you’d want to watch for an hour and a half, but I found the direction Camp took with the movie a lot different than I expected. It’s currently nominated for Best Animated Movie at the upcoming Oscars. And while Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio looks to be the front-runner, people should give this a good look too. Both Camp and Del Toro have done wonders with animation this past year that movies past the standard Disney/Pixer and 3-D animation fare one might expect from the term “animated movie.”

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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