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What We Hope to See in the Film

Back in 2010, during the golden era of YouTube, a series of brief stop-motion videos took the world by storm. The iconic Marcel the Shell with Shoes On video and miniseries were among YouTube’s biggest viral hits at the time. To this day, people quote the quirky, adorable little shell, known for his peculiar voice. The first installment amassed over 30 million views on YouTube and was so popular that it subsequently launched Marcel voice actor Jenny Slate‘s successful entertainment career.

In an official trailer, A24 announced that a feature-length film, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, is to be released in July of this year. The film, which has already been nominated for Best Feature Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, was written and directed by the original creator, Slate’s then-husband, Dean Fleischer-Camp. Slate has also returned to lend Marcel’s signature high-pitched voice. Here is what we hope to see in the film itself.


Marcel’s Endearing Anecdotes

Marcel the Shell

Marcel the Shell is well-loved in the original YouTube series for a variety of reasons. He is an awkward, adorable little shell with a singular googly eye, a crudely animated mouth, and little doll shoes glued to his body. This basic yet effective narrative style dominated YouTube during this era and is prevalent in other viral series such as Charlie the Unicorn, Salad Fingersand Harry Potter Puppet Pals. Based on the trailerit appears that Fleischer-Camp has honored Marcel’s origins by maintaining his signature look, voice, and stop-motion animation.

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These aspects all contribute to Marcel’s charm, but the key component is his proclivity to share strange yet oddly endearing anecdotes. For instance, in the original animated short, Marcel prompts the camera operator (Fleischer-Camp), asking, “Guess what I wear as a hat?” Marcel then replies, “A lentil.” He continues on with similar facts about himself that connote his minuscule size. Eager fans hope that the A24 film will introduce new adorable facts about the amiable little shell.

A New Adventure

In the third and final episode of the YouTube series, Marcel finds that he has accidentally locked himself outside. Of course, he is too small to let himself back in, but he decides that he is fine with waiting out the incoming storm for a while. Only mildly inconvenienced, Marcel continues to share wholesome pieces of information about himself. As he states, upon finding he cannot get back inside, he secretly enjoys when people get stuck in places, apparently because that is when they begin to reveal their secrets. Eventually, however, he becomes tired and requests that the camera operator let him in through the window. In the film, perhaps Marcel will become lost with much higher stakes, allowing the creators to build upon the original conflict and use the obstacle as a vessel to reveal Marcel’s true fears and vulnerabilities.

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Based on the official trailer, the film will have the same documentary-style format as the YouTube shorts; the camera operator appears to follow a stop-motion Marcel, engaging him in an ongoing thoughtful conversation. The trailer has already introduced a new and exciting feature: a third character. Marcel often speaks of his family members, referring to a tragic incident with a hairbrush that befell his brother, but we never actually see his family members – until now. In the film, Marcel is living with another shell, his Nana, Connie (Isabella Rossellini). Thanks to this addition, we may get to learn about Marcel’s past beyond the oddball little details that he provides unprompted.

In the film, Marcel yearns to find and reconnect with his family, so he posts an ad on YouTube in a fourth-wall moment alluding to his past. Thanks to tips from loyal fans, he embarks upon an epic adventure, bigger than anything he has ever known. It seems he also (briefly) fulfills his wish to have a dog. We hope that Marcel safely achieves his ultimate goal while holding true to his original character.

The Closure Fans Forgot They Were Waiting For

marcel the shell with shoes on nana connie

The YouTube miniseries concludes with Marcel standing on the windowsill, gazing wistfully into the rainy garden, and singing a melancholic song about parting with friends at the end of a perfect day. When asked where he learned the song, Marcel says, “I learned it at camp, and I sing it because my best friend lives far away.” Then, the video ends on a thoughtful yet yearning note. Although Marcel’s story could easily have ended there, the finale left Fleischer-Camp and Slate with plenty of room to continue the story, as they have.

There are still many questions that have gone unanswered, particularly in regards to Marcel’s family. We do not know how they became separated or even where Marcel himself comes from, but it seems as though the film will address this. Because the movie is framed with the specific goal in mind to locate Marcel’s family, it appears that fans may just get to experience closure, 12 years later. Marcel is easy to root for because he is so endearing, so his fans simply want the very best for him.

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