Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) is a one inch tall shell, with shoes and a face, who lives in a large human’s Airbnb house with his grandmother, Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Marcel once belonged to a large community of shells. Now only he, Nana Connie, and their pet ball of lint, Alan, are left. When a new resident to the house, amateur filmmaker, Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp), notices Marcel, he decides to make a documentary about Marcel and the clever and resourceful ways the shell navigates daily life. Dean then posts the video on YouTube. The post goes viral, unearthing Marcel’s hope at finding his long-lost family and attracting the interest of Marcel’s favourite program, 60 Minutes. However, Marcel’s video fans and followers turn out to be more interested in taking selfies outside his house than helping find his family. And when his grandmother’s health deteriorates, and he realises how big the world outside his house really is, Marcel loses hope that he will ever see his family again. But will he?
Death of a loved one; separation from family and community; loss; grief; hope; risk taking; gratitude; wellbeing; mindfulness; friendship; community; loneliness; resilience; creativity; innovation; fear of change; bravery; the superficiality of social media
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has some violence. For example:
- The couple who own the house have a few verbal arguments with raised voices. This scares the shell community.
- When Marcel goes out with Dean to look for his family, he takes a pin and a match in preparation for any ‘fights’.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has some sexual references. For example:
- Tampons (part of Marcel’s community) are shown with eyes and one has rabbit ears.
- Marcel refers to pubic hairs as, ‘hearty hairs, long and strong’. He finds them clogged in the bathroom drain and uses them to make rope.
- Comments on Marcel’s YouTube video make reference to him as a ‘she’ and liking his pink shoes. He retorts that both his dad and his granddad wore pink shoes.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has some substance use. For example:
- A cork is popped from a champagne bottle.
- Having drunk a little too much nectar, a bee lies on its side drooling, then flies erratically, bumping into windows.
- After his video goes viral, a meme is shown of Marcel, smiling and looking a bit hazy, with the caption, ‘When the kush hit you hard’.
- Dean finds Marcel eating pills in the bathroom.
Nudity and sexual activity
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Marcel jokingly makes kissing noises and says, ‘Ooh, baby, baby, ooh. I like to see people kiss on television’.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has some product placement. For example, the following products are displayed or used in this movie: Airbnb, YouTube, 60 Minutes, Google, iPhones, Mac Computers, Mitsubishi, Crayola, Cheetos, and Chex Mix.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On has some coarse language. For example, ‘oh jeez’, ‘darn it’, ‘shut up’, ‘darn’, ‘what the?’, ‘oh God’, ‘dang it’, ‘God dang it’ and ‘idiot’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is a combination of stop-motion animation blended with live-action actors and scenes. This ‘mockumentary’ is a feature-length film adaptation of the 2010 viral YouTube video series with the same name. Marcel is a terrific role model with a lot of great qualities, including openly liking himself despite being only an inch tall. The film covers some big themes and powerful messages with an abundance of gratitude and some great quotes, like, ‘Guess why I smile a lot? … Coz it’s worth it’. The slow pace of the film makes it best suited to families with tweens and older.
These are the main messages from Marcel the Shell with Shoes On:
- the importance of friendship
- the importance of family and community
- in the face of adversity we should strive to ‘not just survive but to have a good life’.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children are courage, bravery and being ‘fearless’, responsibility, loyalty, empathy and acceptance.
This movie could give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of:
- Community. For example, what does being part of a community mean, who is considered part of a community, how are people connected, and in the online world, what is the difference between an audience and a community?
- Resilience. Marcel demonstrates a lot of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Does this help him to be more resilient? What can we learn from Marcel’s usually optimistic outlook?
- Change. Change is inevitable so how can we embrace it? Think about some changes you were scared or worried about but that turned out well.