A filmmaker (Dean Fleischer-Camp) becomes fascinated with an adorable talking shell (Jenny Slate) who lives in an Airbnb with his grandmother (Isabella Rossellini). As we explore the little guy’s world, Marcel discovers the possibility of reconnecting with his long-lost family through his growing popularity on the internet.
Unusual in the Best Ways
The film acts like a documentary and feels so genuine and real despite how arduous a stop motion-animation and live action hybrid movie is. I would describe this film as a ballet, where it takes so much effort to make this movie feel effortless and natural. The character and set design are so charming. The technical efforts made for this film is reason enough to check this one out.
Snapshot of an Era
Besides being a visual masterpiece, the ideas presented in this movie will be the most memorable part for viewers. Marcel has this innocent, pure perspective that provides precious nuggets of comedy and wisdom that viewers of all ages will enjoy. His grandmother is equally loveable and an admirable character in her strength and maturity.
For me, there was a lot of personal nostalgia for an era of the internet that inspired me to film my own goofy videos, like the original ‘Marcel the Shell’ shorts on YouTube. It was a genius move to build off those shorts by pulling back the curtain, showing how a documentary is made, making the mysterious man behind the camera a character; it made my little filmmaker heart soar.
Besides the nostalgia, this movie’s overall message really touched me. I find it very interesting that this movie talks a lot about breakups and relationships changing or evolving when Slate and Fleischer-Camp were in a relationship when they first made the Marcel shorts, but they have since broken up. Moving on from a relationship—without immediately falling into a new one—is an interesting way to further explore the main theme of change.
The “Linger” camp song is performed by Marcel many times throughout the film. It shows his longing to hold onto what currently is, refusing to change or say goodbye. However, this is contrasted by life events teaching him that change, whether good or bad (sometimes both), must take place in order to get to the joy of the next phase. This movie is a great way for children (and adults) to learn how to accept change while still having a cathartic experience that validates the heartache that may follow.
This is a magnificently crafted film with heartwarming messages that everyone should see.
Parent’s Guide: PG
This movie is very safe for young viewers, but the slow pacing might not make it super exciting for them. The only things that bump up the rating is some rare mild language and the sad loss of loved ones that is portrayed in the film.