Commentary: Marcel has a huge heart and a bulging eye.

Jake Coyle | Olx Praca

It’s boom time for google eyes.

A few months after the metaphysical sci-fi comedy Everything Everywhere, in whose arsenal the metaverse memorably features one that works magic from a pair of rocks and a few plastic eyeballs, comes Marcel in a Shell in Boots.

Marcel is an inch-tall seashell with a single bulging eye, a pair of Polly Pocket shoes, and a very large heart. He appears to be a shell, “but I also have shoes and a face.”

“I like that about myself,” Marcel says.

“Marseille in Shells in Boots,” which premiered in theaters Friday, is a stop-motion animated feature film based on YouTube shorts directed by Jenny Slate, who voices Marcel in a cozy high-pitched tone, and directed by Dean Fleischer Camp. . It’s a leap of scale that Marcel, who sleeps on a slice of bread and plays taps through pasta, would probably appreciate himself.

The feeling of being small and adorable to the point of goosebumps is at the heart of Marseille the Shell, possibly the cutest clam movie ever made. For Marcel, there is great joy and pride in being the little guy, and only occasional thrills. The sight of the cleaner, the “harbinger of a vacuum,” is one example of anxiety. But for the most part, Marcel is fine. He uses a mixer tied to a branch to shake fruit from a tree outside his window. When he wants to move faster, he uses his “rover” – a tennis ball with a hole that you can climb into.

In the film, which captures the same sunny spirit and loose pseudo-documentary style as the shorts, Marcel lives mostly out of sight in a California home with his gardening grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini, best voice of all time). They go unnoticed until documentary filmmaker Dean (Camp) arrives and starts filming Marcel. And like an imaginative child, Marcel loves the attention, constantly showing Dean little tricks and willingly sharing a constant stream of incoherent thoughts and motivational slogans. One of them comes from the athlete Marseille, whom he calls “Whale Jetski”: “You miss 100% of the time when you don’t shoot.”

Marcel’s unpredictable preferences and tastes are part of his charm. He and Connie, for example, are big fans of Lesley Stahl’s 60 Minutes and watch it regularly. “She opens cases wide,” Marcel explains. After Dean posts clips of Marcel on YouTube that garner millions of views, fame comes to Marcel with some discomfort. TikTokers appear near the house. Even Stahl calls.

About how much sensation a shell can withstand, the story of “Marseille of the Shell” tells. But it’s more about retaining, in the face of heartache and self-doubt, a childlike appreciation for the smallest things in life.

Melancholy surrounds the film. It occurs almost entirely in and around the house, giving it the loneliness of a couch potato. Something undefined has happened that uproots Marseille’s larger community, leaving only him and Connie, whose health is failing. Dean cherishes grief too. We don’t know much about his life and don’t even see him often, but we do know that he just went through a divorce. (Slate and Camp divorced in 2016. Their homemade film is partly the tender product of a relationship that has receded.)

The Marseille Sink can be pushed to the brink, or even tipped over into sugary territory—such is the constant danger of bulging eyes. But it may be the only movie that has this line: “Guess why I smile a lot? Uh, because it’s worth it. There is something unexpectedly tough about Marseille, a resilient soul who faces the ups and downs of life with courage and playfulness. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On could be considered a children’s film or an art house indie (A24 out). But his suitable audience could be anyone who has ever felt polished by life and could take a ride in Marseille’s all-terrain vehicle.

“Marseille Shell in Shoes”

3 stars out of 4

Rating: PG (for some suggestive material and thematic element)

Duration: 90 minutes

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