Based on the short film of the same name by Dean Fleischer-Camp, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, is an absolute marvel and heartfelt examination of life in our world. Combining stop-motion animation and real-life backgrounds Fleischer-Camp and his crew tell the story of a sweet, optimistic, and irresitably lovable anthropomorphic seashell named Marcel, who lives with his grandmother Connie in an Airbnb, and gets discovered by a filmmaker. Featuring the voices of Jenny Slate, who portrays Marcel, and Isabella Rossellini as Connie, Fleischer-Camp’s feature-length mocumentary could very well become my top animated film of the year, and is definitely one of the great movies of the year overall.

After a painful divorce, filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp (played by himself) temporarily moves into an Airbnb until he can find a more permanent home for himself. Not long after moving into the lovely house, he soon discovers its much smaller inhabitants–two sentient and ambulatory, talking seashells Marcel and his Aunt Connie. Even though the two shells mostly live alone in the house, the home, at one time, was inhabited by a great civilization of shells. That is, until one day when a frightening disaster most of them away from the house, leaving only Marcel and Connie remaining.

Instantly smitten with Marcel and Connie, Dean decides to film them and their daily activities, allowing them to share their fascinating and enjoyable stories. It soon becomes apparent that the elderly Connie’s health and state of mind is beginning to decline. After an unfortunate accident, the once young and optimistic Marcel goes into over-protective mode and begins to question whether or not they should continue documenting their life and activities. Meanwhile, after Dean’s videos go viral on YouTube, Leslie Stahl and 60 Minutes also take an interest in presenting Marcel’s, Connie’s, and Dean’s stories.

Written and directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp, who co-wrote the story and screenplay with Jenny Slate, Nick Paley, and Elisabeth Holm, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is an absolute masterpiece. The filmmakers take a simple premise, bring some real-world/real life problems and issues to the story, and imbue the whole affair so much heart and sweet charm. To use the cliche movie review quotable, you will definitely laugh and you will cry. I know that sounds a bit corny, but as corny and sacharine as the movie had the potential of being, it never actually feels that way.

Everyone involved in this movie are coming from genuine places and it definitely shows in their work. From the painstaking work it takes to do the animation, to the wonderful voicework in the movie, an overall earnestness and passion is felt through everything in this movie Both Jenny Slate and Isabella Rossellini are wonderful as Marcel and Connie. Without their amazing performances, this movie may have not worked as well as it does. In addition, the great live action performances by Dean Fleischer-Camp, Rosa Salazar, and Thomas Mann also add much to the realism of the film.

At this point, it should go without saying that Marcel the Shell is one of my favorite movies this year, and I must highly recommend it. I feel that children of all ages will probably enjoy it, but some of the themes and issues addressed might go over their heads. Adults will must definitely understand and should relate to these themes and beats as they are all part of real life. Though it is a film that doesn’t necessarily demand to be viewed theatrically, it is so good that it is worth the price of admission.

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