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  • Writer's pictureBradley Gambosi

A Talking Shell Stole My Heart

A Talking Shell Stole My Heart

Whilst the curtains at the Music Box Theater in Wrigleyville rose, never did I expect that me and my boyfriend to walk out of the theater damp from our tears. From an outside individual, it may have seemed like we’d just watched a depressing, dramatic piece of cinema; however, it was simply the magical, emotional journey that is Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is the latest captivating film from the brilliant creators at A24 (Midsomer, Hereditary). However, despite being their first attempt at a more family-friendly film, the studio, once again, doesn’t miss. The film is based upon several 2010 YouTube shorts created by director, Dean Fleischer-Camp, and the voice of the titular Marcel, Jenny Slate.

The film, set up as a documentary with Fleischer-Camp also playing the documentarian, follows the gigantic challenges faced by Marcel and his nana, Connie, now that they’ve been separated from their community.

Sure, Marcel is undeniably cute, but his jokes are meaningfully touching on topics such as finding your place is this giant world, loneliness, self-esteem, and simply finding happiness within your current situation no matter how hopeless it may seem. “Guess why I smile a lot,” Marcel asks, “Because it’s worth it.”

This movie felt like it came out at the perfect time in my opinion. Myself and the audience around me were entranced by the story of a 1-inch tall talking shell. The sentiment offered by Marcel is something many comedies today are missing. Whether its Marcel uncontrollably driving a tennis ball, giving a pantry tour, or simply facing overarching anxieties many people know too well; it’s that warm feeling so many people have missed from recent films.

The main parts of Marcel that specifically hit me hard were when he would talk about his missing family. Whilst showing drawings he’s made of all the individuals that were in his community and their stories, he says one of the heavy-hitting quotes from the film: “The other part of it is I think I find my mind wandering a bit just thinking, ‘What would my family think?’, and really noticing that they’re not here to share it with me.” I think growing older can be a lonely and confusing time for many and it’s quite the difficult feeling finding your place once you’re finally out on your own. That experience makes this movie such a unique coming-of-age film.

Marcel is naïve about the world within the film. Specifically, he begs Fleischer-Camp to go somewhere high to be able to see the whole world to try and spot the red car that took away his family. Fleischer-Camp tries to get Marcel to realize just how gigantic the world is, but he still insists on going. Marcel’s ignorance to the world and childish purity allows him to believe that he’ll easily be able to do it. However, being on top of a mountain in LA leads him to learn that this is just one mountain peak, in one major city, in one gigantic country, that’s all one enormous planet.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2022)

These small moments appear unexpectedly within the movie, but you just can’t help but identify with the experience of a miniscule talking shell. Despite being human, the film shows we’re really no bigger than Marcel the Shell on this planet. When we find ourselves within situations that just seem larger than life, a small ounce of hope still remains no matter what.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is currently my favorite movie of the year and one of my favorites ever. It’s message and unique delivery through the character of a talking shell lets its meaningful messages about community, family, identity, and loss to be just that much more interesting. It’s relatable to anybody finding their place in the world, searching for their community, and finding happiness within turmoil. If you have the opportunity to watch it, I can’t recommend it enough.

If you’re feeling lost within the world currently, Marcel puts it best:

“There’s all these people, and we’re all looking at the same thing, and we’re all doing the same thing. It’s beautiful. And it feels like, I don’t even know how to describe it. It feels like something. It’s really lovely.”

Rating: ★★★★★

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is now available to buy on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services.


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