Out of the way, Tom Cruise, our newest adventure hero has arrived.
His name is Marcel. He’s partially a shell, and he also has shoes and a face.
From the creative minds of Dean Fleischer Camp (co-creator, director, and co-writer) and Jenny Slate (co-creator and co-writer) comes their film, Marcel the Shell With Shoes On—a mash-up of stop motion animation and live-action—which is out in limited release in San Francisco this weekend.
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On was initially a YouTube video that became an early viral sensation back in 2010. The initial stop motion animated short spawned sequels and New York Times bestselling books, and now, after seven years in the making, Marcel is hitting the big screen as a 90-minute feature.
To be a true community of shells, you need at least 20 shells, Marcel (Slate, Obvious Child) explains to Dean (Fleischer Camp, Fraud), a documentary filmmaker who turns his camera on the candid, one-inch, single googly-eyed shell in pink shoes after coming across him in his Airbnb rental. Right now, it’s just Marcel and his grandmother, Nana Connie (Isabella Rossellini, Blue Velvet). The two shells are all that remain from their community of shells that went missing following an argument between the two humans who used to live in the home.
When Dean uploads his Marcel documentary online, initially, it has 84 views. Before long, it unexpectedly jumps to 22 million views—going viral—where it attracts the attention of news outlets, late-night shows, and TikTokers. Seeing the response, Marcel wonders if he might be able to find his family.
There’s an innate cuteness to Marcel right off the bat. And it’s not just his stature or his and Nana Connie’s love of “60 Minutes. It’s the inventive and adventurous manner with which he approaches his unique existence: from traveling across the house via a tennis ball he dubbed “The Rover” to coating the bottom of his shoes with honey to walk on the walls to reach the windows and his hidden stockpile to playing records for the indoor plants and telling an off-screen Dean that he smiles “because it’s worth it.”