With the Oscars soon approaching in just under a month, I know many of us are rushing to see all of the nominated films. While Marcel The Shell With Shoes On may not be nominated for Best Picture, it was a memorable film for me. The story embraced its absurdity with delightful humor and a heartwarming story.
At first glance, the beloved shell, Marcel, might ring a bell for some of you. Over twelve years ago, Marcel, the Shell was one of the many viral sensations on Youtube back when the platform was filled with nonsensical, funny three-minute videos. The video was nothing more than a little stop-motion shell telling the camera how he goes about day-to-day life so small. “For adventure,” he says he “hang glides with a Dorito” to refresh your memory. Youtube video has over thirty-three million views and I remember everyone I knew finding it hilarious.
Now, of course, the film is much more than that. After an amateur documentary filmmaker gets divorced and ends up living in an Airbnb until he can find permeant residency, he comes across Marcel the Shell and his Nana Connie who have been struggling to survive in the house for some time now. The documentarian befriends Marcel, films him in his daily life, and uploads it to Youtube where they find instant fame. Through the film, we see the very real impacts of internet fame, a friendship forms between the documentarian and Marcel, and Marcel hopes to use his newfound fame to find the rest of his family.
At first, I did have some hesitations about this movie. We are in an age where so many films and television shows are recycling old material in hopes that it would ignite some sort of “nostalgia” in their audience. While getting a sense of nostalgia can be fun, it is now being done to the point of exhaustion. People want to see something new and creative too! I was worried the film Marcel the Shell with Shoes On would be just another project that would try to add another cart onto the nostalgic train that has no plans of stopping. But after seeing it I do not think it is; and if it is trying to do that, I think it does it much more successfully than so many of the other films and television shows we are seeing. The film does not just take the three-minute video and creates a story about it; it utilizes the video to create a story around it.
There is a lot of comedy in this movie, some of it focusing on Marcel’s tiny form. But it does not completely absorb the film with the same repetitive comedy we see in the Youtube video. There is some wonderful dry comedy, some heartwarming dialogue, and a sweet story. And in this new age of digital media, where so many social media influencers are coming to a more mainstream light, I think the story is important. There are instances where Marcel realizes the gravity that comes with having a large audience on the internet and how people take advantage of his nativity of such. It demonstrates that influencers are real people. Or, I guess, shells in this instance.