I know, I know. Everyone is probably saying, “But this came out in the summer of 2022, dude! Why review it?” Well, this film is too charming to not mention it. It has such a charm and whimsy to it that it is indescribable. It pulls the trick by breaking your heart with such gentle care that you aren’t aware it happened until too late, and the joy brought in floods out. But that is only a momentary feeling as it builds you back up. Don’t get me wrong, the film is incredibly happy and celebrates love for one another, but I’m just warning of the punch. Now let’s jump into the plot and reasons how a tiny shell with shoes carries such powerful wisdom.
We find ourselves watching a mockumentary with both real-life and animation elements used to superb effect. For anyone who may not know, a mockumentary is a fictional documentary. Dean, the man behind the camera, has moved into a new Airbnb where some unexpected guests reside. Marcel and Nana Connie are two little beach shells that have found a way to live inside the house independently. Dean decides to film their daily antics. He soon learns the two shells used to have a great big family until, one day, they were taken away. Soon Marcel becomes an internet sensation and is forced to confront big emotions when experiencing more aspects of the world.
Based on a short film of the same name, Dean Fleisher-Camp finds a way to extend his creation without ever feeling like a cash grab. The joyful beats even out with every sentimental moment taken. It is a true pleasure to watch a passion project brought to life. You can tell every line, and shot is planned to perfection. Layers of chosen family and real communities are intertwined throughout the script, and the emotional score packs just the right amount of heft. In a final showcase of praise for the cast and crew, Jenny Slate is a master of voice acting. Her voice is so disguised that it brings the character more individuality as we have never heard it before. I promise a few tears of joy will come once Slate’s singing ability is on display.
The film also handles themes of abandonment and loss, but never in a way that felt it was abusing these feelings to drive the characters’ sole journey. Marcel is a character developed to the point the only other animated film that could compare is Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. It is incredibly refreshing to have such great work put into a children’s movie. Especially one with such a profound message that will be remembered for a long time.
I honestly cannot wait for the Academy Awards. No animated film this year can compare. I eagerly await the day it is recognized by families and friend groups with the profound praise it truly deserves. Please have a fantastic night, and I hope you’ve found your community.