I have been waiting to see this new A24 animated film for months. I had completely forgotten about the hilarious Marcel shorts on YouTube until I saw the trailer for this. Well, if you enjoyed those creative little videos by Jenny Slate then you are going to really like this feature film. What makes this work is the humor, heart, animation, and voice talent. There is so much joy within this and that joy is the result of the abundance of laughter and the genuine sweetness. I hope this film does well and finds a large audience.
The first thing you notice is the striking unique style of animation that is used. I just love the design and look of Marcel and the other shells. There’s a realness to the look and they’re all so adorable. I especially liked the look of the grandma shell, it’s just very creative. The cinematography was handled very well here. The whole film has a nice crisp look to it. I mean this is A24, so I expect no less!
Another positive here is the overall script. The script includes so much fresh humor and genuine emotion. The entire audience in my screening, myself included, was laughing frequently. There’s a great dry sense of humor that this engages in, and it just works. If you’re familiar with the YouTube shorts, then you have some idea of what kind of humor I mean.
In addition to tickling your funny bone, this will also choke you up a bit. It may be hard to believe that this film could have that affect but it’s true.
The character of Marcel and his Nana are so well drawn, and the script makes you fall in love with them. The film couldn’t work without their charm. When they face challenges or sad things, it really is moving. There’s a purity and an innocence to these little animated characters and that adds to the emotion. Dean Fleischer-Camp plays the man that moves into the home they live at and starts filming Marcel. He is a great addition and the bond they form is yet another charming ingredient.
Of course, he’s just one of the talented members of this cast. The real standouts here are the two leads voicing Marcel and his Nana. The very specific voice Jenny Slate has come up with for this character fits so well. It has a charm, and it makes the humorous lines so much more effective.
And then the great Isabella Rossellini is the voice of Marcel’s grandmother. Rossellini fits into the mold of this sweet role very well and serves as a delightful addition. Leslie Stahl provides a nice little cameo too. The voice talent and cast in this is a major factor as to why this is a success. Different people in these roles could have been tanked the whole thing to be honest.
One more positive detail I want to mention is the different ways Marcel gets around the house. I found the inventive ways he survives and gets tasks done to be very creative and it’s another source of comedy.
There’s really only one negative to Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and that’s that the story of the film could have been expanded some. I liked the simple story they presented but by the end I did feel like they could have stretched it some more. What I was seeing was so good and I wanted more. But hey one minor downside in a sea of upsides isn’t bad at all!
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a charming film that is sure to have you enjoying a rich laugh one moment and then welling up with emotion the next. The story could have used some expansion but what they did provide us with is certainly a treat worth savoring.
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