It was hard to know exactly what to expect from a feature-length adaptation of an ancient (by internet standards) viral video of yore, but somehow we still weren’t expecting quite this depth of emotionality from a Marcel the Shell with Shoes On movie. Leave it to the folks at A24 to take the cutesy concept—what does Marcel use for a hat?— and infuse it with a deep well of pathos. Not to mention the dulcet tones of Phil Collins as well.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp, with a screenplay from Camp, Nick Paley, and star Jenny Slate, who has always provided the squeaky voice of the adorably tiny Marcel. It expands the original video shorts about a small shell’s daily life by exploring the depth of Marcel’s loneliness and his search for his lost family, who were previously separated in some kind of traumatic event. Presented in the style of a documentary about Marcel’s search for meaning, various other prominent media figures and news anchors are roped into giving assistance, including Lesley Stahl, Brian Williams and even Conan O’Brien for a brief moment. Phil Collins’ 1986 classic “Take Me Home” lends even more tear-jerking pathos throughout.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On runs a breezy 90 minutes and premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival, where it received very strong reviews from a handful of fairly incredulous critics. It stands out rather sharply against the typical production from independent film studio A24, eschewing the arthouse drama and horror tones in favor of a story that seems to be 100% heartwarming fluff. Perhaps that’s just what we need righ tnow, though. The film is set for release in the U.S. on June 24, 2022. Check out the first full trailer below.