When I saw the marketing for Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, I couldn’t help but notice that they kept stressing the line, “Everybody Loves Marcel.” They even had it up on the screen at the screening that I attended.
This made two questions immediately come to my mind: “Is Marcel truly as lovable as is being said?” and “Just because the main character is lovable, does that mean that the movie will be enjoyable no matter what?” I bring these two questions up right off the bat because I feel that they are incredibly important when looking at both my review and also the film itself.
For those who aren’t aware of what the movie is about or who Marcel is, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On follows the titular character of Marcel, who lives with his grandmother in a home that is now being rented out as an Airbnb. Dean, a recently divorced man who is now renting the Airbnb, discovers Marcel and, being the amateur filmmaker that he is, decides to start making a documentary about Marcel, which becomes a viral sensation.
This 90-minute movie is based on a short film released a decade ago, which was created by the same people who adapted the movie into the feature-length film that you have before you.
The movie really shines in the first and third acts. Introducing Marcel and his world is joyful and exciting, with a ton of laughs that immediately make Marcel lovable. The third act also provides an absolutely satisfying end to the story, full of charm and tears.
Now looking at the first question, “Is Marcel truly as lovable as being said?” is an easy question to answer. Yes, he is. “Everybody loves Marcel” actually feels like an understatement. The characters in the film love Marcel. The audience I saw it with loved Marcel, both adults and children in attendance. I loved Marcel. There are almost no words that reasonably describe the magic that every scene with Marcel feels like. Pure joy feels like the best if I have to put it to words, though.
However, while this is all fine and good, it is time to look at the much trickier question, “Just because the main character is lovable, does that mean that the movie will be enjoyable no matter what?” For some people, without a doubt, it will be enjoyable no matter what.
Every viewer is different, though, as while some would prefer a more compelling story, others would prefer compelling characters. Some viewers just want to have fun at the movies, and experience pure joy if you will, and having a lovable character will do just that. Others simply won’t take to this type of movie.
For the rest of the review, we will be looking at not only my personal thoughts on the film, but I will also be sprinkling in some things that I noticed from the audience I saw it with in my packed theater.
Let’s start with the things that I absolutely loved about the film. The movie starts off incredibly strong with moments that I would go so far as to say are some of the most charming moments I’ve seen in film for years.
The introduction to our two lead characters, Marcel, played by Jenny Slate, and Dean, played by Dean Fleischer-Camp, is incredible. Both characters immediately come across as extremely likable and endearing.
For pretty much the whole movie, these are the characters that we follow, but thankfully they never feel stale, which is primarily thanks to the two performers’ charming nature. This is also due to the duo’s fantastic comedic timing, which Slate, being the comedic genius she is, especially excels at in the movie.
As for the things that I didn’t totally care for with the movie, as you may have noticed, I didn’t mention anything about the second act. While the first and third acts are great, the second act feels a bit unnecessary and feels a bit more like padding than true plot or character progression.
It feels weird to say that a movie that is 90 minutes long is a bit too long, but that’s unfortunately what it feels like. The film definitely comes across as an adaptation of a short film because while there was an excellent idea for a short, it simply doesn’t translate as well to a longer format.
As I previously mentioned, I saw the film in a packed theater with parents, children, and other adults, so I made sure to make a note of how the audience was reacting, especially given that the movie is a comedy, so reactions should be abundant.
At the beginning of the film was when the children felt the most engaged; they absolutely loved Marcel. However, as the movie progressed, it seemed that the movie was starting to lose the attention of the children. Instead, the adults were the ones who were more engaged, with the comedy and themes of the film really speaking to an adult audience, as opposed to being something that engaged the younger crowd.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On seems to speak more towards those parents who want to take their kids to a fun movie but secretly really just want an excuse to see the film, with the parents most certainly getting much more out of the viewing than their children.
As the film progresses, the focus is less on providing the charming world-building that appeals to people of all ages. Instead, the film focuses on things like Lesley Stahl and 60 Minutes. Don’t get me wrong, having Lesley Stahl and 60 Minutes in the movie is charming and hilarious. However, things like this only land on an adult audience. So, the film’s shift in focus causes the younger audience to seem to not care as much for what is happening on screen.
As for how it felt to see the movie on the big screen. Seeing the movie on a large screen was great, as it makes you feel a bit more about how Marcel sees the world. Things that look big feel big because of that large screen, so if you want to experience that feeling, then seeing it in theaters would be great.
However, it is certainly not a movie that demands to be seen on the big screen, but it would still be fantastic for those who want to sit around the TV with their family and have a great movie night.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is currently being released in limited theaters, with a wide release set to happen on July 15.
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