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I Saw “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” Two Months Ago & I’m Still Thinking About It

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Maine chapter.

When I first got word that comedian Jenny Slate was bringing her adorably awkward star of the YouTube series Marcel the Shell With Shoes On to the big screen, I knew it was going to be my most anticipated film of the summer. Co-created with Dean Fleischer-Camp, the pair posted stop-motion videos from 2010 to 2014, mock-umenting the life of Marcel, a one-inch tall seashell with shoes and a single googly eye.

The movie, filmed in the same mockumentary format, follows Marcel, his grandmother (also a shell) Connie, and Alan, their pet ball of lint. Viewers are put in the perspective of Dean, played by Fleischer-Camp, as he documents Marcel’s journey and posts it online, launching the tiny shell into the stratosphere of internet superstardom. Marcel the Shell is Fleischer-Camp’s first directorial debut along with him starring. The quirky charm of Marcel is as infectious in the theater as it was on YouTube – not only is he cute, the unique childlike-yet-gravelly voice Slate gives Marcel gives every line the perfect delivery. 

My mistake was walking in with expectations. I expected 90 minutes of a happy, light-hearted comedy about a little shell. And if you were planning on going in with that thought – buckle up. What I saw instead completely blew every expectation, assumption, and idea of what the story Marcel the Shell could be out of the water. Instead of light-hearted, we get a heartwarming dramedy that conveys strong messages of family, belonging, microcelebrity, and grief all throughout the chronicles of Marcel’s story. Full disclosure – I was in tears for just about the whole movie. 

The film first premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in Sept. 2021 and at SXSW in March 2022 before A24 bought the distribution rights. From there, it was released in select theaters in June and slowly dispersed into smaller theaters before becoming available nationwide in July. As a fan in a rural area like Orono – having to wait until it came to the Bangor movie theater was grueling. But once it premiered here, my roommates and I were quick to see a showtime. 

When we bought our tickets to an otherwise empty theater, the employee behind the counter asked, “What is this movie? Is it French?” And of course we laughed and brushed it off, but once we left with tear stains down our cheeks and mascara pooling under our eyes (maybe just me) – I knew this was no joke.

Marcel the Shell is a criminally underrated film and quite frankly, I’m still not over talking about it because I’m still reeling. This film is one with a profound heart, and you will leave the theater with a love for 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl and a need to call your grandma.Although Marcel is out of theaters now, it is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Grace Bradley

U Maine '23

Hello all! My name is Grace and I'm a fourth-year Communication major with a minor in Journalism here at UMaine! Originally from Connecticut, but I wanted more trees! Biiig music, art, and politics gal. Give me every outlet of expression!!