Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is the most human movie of the year. Perhaps that is an odd declarative to make, considering Marcel is indeed a shell. However, the new film from director Dean Fleischer-Camp and studio A24 hits home for audiences, both human and otherwise identified. Based on the 2010 short of the same name that follows a big-hearted, little shell named Marcel as he navigates through life in a human-sized world.
Marcel is voiced by Jenny Slate, the voice actress for the original YouTube shorts. Slate and Fleischer-Camp created the character together, sharing the credit when the shorts became a viral sensation. Since then, two more shorts and a series of children’s books were released.
To show Marcel’s journey on the big screen, the creative team chose a mockumentary style, with Marcel speaking directly to the camera. Director Fleischer-Camp is both the voice behind the camera and the character of Dean, who chooses to create a documentary of Marcel’s life.
Marcel is eager to speak to him. For years, Marcel has largely lived alone with his Grandmother, named Nana Connie (Isabella Rossellini). Marcel shows Dean all the special ways both he and Connie have maneuvered the giant home in order to survive, such as using a tennis ball for transportation. As the film progresses, Marcel reveals the house used to be home to many shells like he and Nana Connie, as well as a married couple. The married couple never knew about the shells living in their home and accidentally separate Marcel from the rest of his shell community when they split up. This lays the framework for Marcel's hero journey.
In an attempt to find his friends and family, Dean helps Marcel to go viral, but this backfires. Dean continues to help Marcel in searching for his community, even enlisting the help of Lesley Stahl, host of 60 minutes, whom Marcel and Connie idolize, dubbing her “fearless.”