Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021)

I went into “Marvel the Shell With Shoes On” expecting basically just a long form of his numerous YouTube videos. What I found was a deeply moving, often funny, sometimes tearjerkingly sad, masterpiece of a story.

Marcel lives alone with his grandmother after an incident caused the rest of his family and neighbors to vanish one evening. The two share a house and soon find themselves with a new roommate ( a human!) named Dean.

Dean begins filming the industrious little shells as they go about their daily lives, shooting a documentary of sorts. Mainly focused on Marcel (Jenny Slate) but his grandma Connie (Isabella Rossellini) is constantly supporting Marcel as he tells his story to Dean. The two have figured out how to move about the house, grow and find food, even how to befriend insects and other small creatures to help them with their chores.

As Dean shoots, Marcel opens up more and more. We learn about the couple that had previously occupied the house, and how their arguments lead to the destruction of Marcel and Connie’s community.

Dean takes these videos and posts them on YouTube, at first garnering little attention. However, the more Dean posts, the bigger the audience becomes. Reaching out to millions of viewers, Marcel soon produces a live stream to ask for information on his missing family and friends.

Sadly, this plan backfires, and causes an internet frenzy to find the “Marcel House”. Numerous people stop by, take selfies in the yard, shoot videos, etc…

Realizing his video didn’t achieve the planned results, Marcel asks Dean to take him out into the world, someplace high up, so maybe he can spot the car that left with his family and friends.

While out on their adventure, Marcel learns how big the world actually is. It’s not just his house and backyard garden, it’s a massive collection of homes, gardens, businesses, and everything else, more than he ever imagined.

Upon returning home, Marcel discovers that the house has been plagued by his Internet paparazzi stalkers. This frightened poor grandma Connie, causing her to fall and crack open her shell.

The film goes on to show how Marcel takes care of his grandmother, but also becomes more and more frightened of the outside world leaking in.

As Connie heals, the team receives an email from “60 minutes” (their favorite show, or “The Show” as they call it). They would like to interview Marcel and Dean in hopes of helping Marcel track down his long lost loved ones. After much persuading and some cosmetic trickery, Connie convinced Marcel to be brave, to not be afraid for her or for himself, and to do the interview.

I’ll not spoil the ending, but it is a beautiful piece of storytelling. The kind of story that anyone can relate to. “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” moved me to tears, and made me look at things in a different way.

Hopefully, if you decide to watch it, the little shell will do the same thing for you.

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