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The Crack Magazine

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Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Director: Dean Fleischer Camp

Featured voices: Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer Camp, Rosa Salazar

This feature-length animation, adapted by co-writer-director Camp from his trio of YouTube short films that were a huge viral hit in 2010, is inventive and emotionally engaging enough, if a little overextended.

Documentary filmmaker Dean co-writer-director (Camp playing a version of himself) has just moved in to a new Airbnb in California following a break-up with his girlfriend. There he encounters Marcel (voiced by Slate), a curious and cheeky mollusc with a single googly eye and doll shoes who traverses the apartment in his rover (a hollowed out tennis ball).

Charmed by the gregarious, cheeky and curious creature, Dean decides to make a documentary about Marcel’s life. Marcel has been living with his slightly scatty horticulture-inclined grandmother Nana Connie (a completely game and touching Rossellini) in their wheelbarrow garden. Marcel also has a pet dog Alan who is a piece of lint.

As Dean and Marcel’s relationship deepens, Marcel reveals how he and his grandmother were abruptly separated from their community. Moved by the revelation, Dean encourages Marcel to go online to issue a plea for information about his lost community’s whereabouts.

The celebrity cameos as Marcel goes viral are a bit surplus to requirements and the plot ultimately feels a little too flimsy to justify its ninety-minute running time.

Still, the sun-dappled, stop motion rendering of Marcel’s world conjures up a real sense of wonder, while the script delicately explores notions of community and loss, with an ecological message in there to boot. Some genuine laughs too via Slate’s tremulous little boy-voiced delivery of some of Marcel’s more left-field observations.

‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ is out now.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm

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