Coming to theatres beginning July 15, 2022
Marcel the Shell is lonely, and as for where his family went, nobody knows. They were taken away when the last human occupants of their home parted ways. It was by accident, and he doesn’t hold ill will, but not even Dean, his new human friend, can help. When this man discovers this strange Fraggle Rock world after he moves in that abode, his reaction is to be kind and film his life as he takes each day as it comes.
Jenny Slate is marvellous as the voice of this chitin. I found her voice brings a sense of wonder and innocence not too different from how other children go wow when discovering the world.
As for whether a slug exists inside the shell, I’m fairly sure there’s nothing. He’s as alive as those black soots from My Neighbour Totoro and I liken him to a fairy. Plus, I’m willing to say that this stop-motion and live action film by Dean Fleischer-Camp (who also co-stars) owes a small debt to this Studio Ghibli film. He found a home that’s very rustic.
The fictional person this director plays is probably a reflection of himself, and even he has little problems. This version recently got divorced and is not ready to face the world. When he finds this one-inch-tall talking shell and puts his life on YouTube, the attention they get is good. His approach is to respect the pixie and let him be. In what the two discover together is heartfelt, and almost like the sitcom from the 70s, One Day at a Time. These two have to learn how to live for themselves
As a result, what we see as the two try to be engaged as the world turns is enduring and cute. But there’s also more adult moments when his grandmother, Nanna Connie, tries to prepare him for a life without her. Those moments are almost difficult to watch, but this director handles it with a poetic flair that Lord Byron would approve of.
Thankfully, Marcel the Shell is not alone. When Dave helps this seashell in his quest to find his family, the sudden fame helps him understand the world a bit more. Unlike kids of today who love the attention, he’s not as excited. All he wants is to be reunited. That family of animated molluscs, individual Shreddies cereal and other strangeness must be living somewhere.
Although part of me wants to know where these fantastic beasts came from, that would be too much information. Not everything needs to be answered, and the only thing we need to truly know is that this film is a sweet coming of age story about how to enjoy life at its fullest, any way the wind blows.
4 Shells out of 5