When I saw the marketing for Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, I couldn’t help but notice that they kept emphasizing the line “Everybody Loves Marcel.” They even showed it on screen at the demonstration I attended.
Two questions immediately came to mind: “Is Marcel really as lovable as he says it is?” and “Just because the main character is lovable does that mean the movie will definitely be entertaining?” I phrase those two questions the same way because I feel like they’re incredibly important considering both my review and the film itself.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes – Story
For those who don’t know what the movie is about or who Marcel is, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On follows the title character, Marcel, who lives with his grandmother in a house that is now rented out as an Airbnb. Then, Dean, a recently divorced man who now rents an Airbnb, discovers Marcel and, being the amateur filmmaker that he is, decides to make a documentary about Marcel that becomes a viral sensation.
This 90-minute film is based on a short film released a decade ago, created by the same people who adapted the film into the feature-length film you have in front of you.
The film really shines in the first and third acts. Introducing Marcel and his world is lighthearted and exciting, with loads of laughs that make Marcel instantly endearing. The third act also provides an absolutely satisfying conclusion to the story, full of charm and tears.
Now let’s consider the first question, “Is Marcel really as lovable as they say?” is an easy question to answer. Yes, he is. “Everybody loves Marcel,” which actually feels like an understatement. The characters in the film love Marcel. Both the audiences I saw it with loved Marcel, both adults and children. I loved Marcel. There are almost no words that adequately describe the magic that is felt in every scene starring Marcel. However, pure joy feels best when I have to put it into words.
While that’s all well and good, it’s time to address the much trickier question: “Just because the main character is lovable, does that mean the movie will definitely be entertaining?” For some people, it will no doubt be pleasant no matter what.
However, every viewer is different because while some would prefer a more compelling story, others would prefer compelling characters. Some viewers just want to have fun at the movies and experience pure bliss, if you will, and having a lovable character will do just that. Others just don’t like this type of film.
For the rest of the review we will not only look at my personal thoughts on the film but I will also throw in a few things that struck me about the audience I saw it with in my packed cinema.
Let’s start with the things I absolutely loved about the film. The film starts out incredibly strong with moments that I would go as far as to say are some of the most charming moments I’ve seen in film in years.
The performance of our two main characters, Marcel, played by Jenny Slate, and Dean, played by Dean Fleischer-Camp, is incredible. Both characters are immediately very likeable and endearing.
These are the characters we follow for most of the film, but luckily they never feel old-fashioned, thanks largely to the charming nature of the two actors. This is also due to the duo’s fantastic comedic timing, which makes Slate stand out as the comedic genius in the film.
As for the things that didn’t really matter to me about the film, as you may have noticed, I didn’t mention anything about the second act. While the first and third acts are great, the second act feels a bit unnecessary and feels more like padding than real storyline or character development.
It feels strange to say that a movie that is 90 minutes long is a bit too long, but unfortunately it feels that way. The film definitely feels like an adaptation of a short film because while it was an excellent idea for a short film, it just doesn’t translate that well into a longer format.
As I mentioned, I saw the film in a crowded theater with parents, children, and other adults, so I made sure to take notes on how the audience reacted, especially given that the film is a comedy, so reactions should so its plentiful.
At the beginning of the film, the children felt the most involved; they absolutely loved Marcel. However, as the film progressed, it seemed that the film began to lose children’s attention. Instead, the adults were the ones who were more engaged, with the film’s comedy and themes really appealing to an adult audience as opposed to something that appealed to younger audiences.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On seems to appeal more to those parents who want to take their kids to a fun movie, but secretly just want an excuse to see the movie, which parents are sure to get a lot more out of watching than their kids .
As the film progresses, the focus is less on the charming world building that appeals to people of all ages. Instead, the film focuses on things like Lesley Stahl and 60 Minutes. Don’t get me wrong, having Lesley Stahl and 60 Minutes in the film is charming and hilarious. However, such things only end up with an adult audience. So the film’s shift in focus means that younger audiences don’t seem to care as much about what’s happening on screen.
How did it feel to see the film on the big screen. It was great to see the film on a big screen because it makes you think a little bit more about how Marcel sees the world. Things that look big feel big because of this big canvas. So if you want to experience that feeling, it would be great to see it in cinemas.
However, it’s certainly not a film that calls for being seen on the big screen, but it would still be fantastic for those who want to sit in front of the TV with their family and have a great movie night.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is currently released in limited theaters, with a wide release scheduled for July 15th.