Top 10 Movies of 2023 in the United Kingdom: Number 10 – “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”


The film industry is currently experiencing a trend where there is a rise in the production of franchise or generic material, often referred to as “content,” that lacks soul. However, there is also a growing desire for genuine and authentic films, with a handmade imperfection and unpredictability that cannot be replicated in a corporate setting. This can be seen as a “real ale” movement in the film world. Superhero movies are becoming tiresome and Pixar animations are appearing too structured.

This wildly popular stop-motion animation is the ultimate beneficiary of this new hunger: Dean Fleischer Camp and Jenny Slate’s film Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is so airy, so tiny, so eccentric, so exotic, that it appears to break every rule of instant relatability. It whimsically avoids the easy grasp and the elevator pitch. Even the title is baffling and forgettable – are the first and third words supposed to rhyme? – requiring two or three repetitions before it can be committed to memory.

This film has a dedicated following that grew organically on the internet, stemming from its origins as a quirky YouTube show. The story follows a director who moves into an Airbnb following his divorce, only to find that there is already a presence in the house: a miniature seashell named Marcel with a small voice (voiced by co-writer Jenny Slate). His European background gives him a foreign accent.

Marcel, with his large blinking eye and small shoes, takes care of his grandmother who is voiced by Isabella Rossellini and has a fondness for Philip Larkin’s poetry. The main story follows Marcel’s journey to find the rest of his family who were mistakenly taken by the previous human residents of the house. Along the way, Marcel and his friend Dean seek assistance from Lesley Stahl, a TV news anchor for 60 Minutes, to locate his relatives. Dean also receives some valuable and composed emotional guidance from Marcel.

Marcel’s presence is not comparable to Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. He does not exude clever intricacies and clever design elements. Instead, he has a more homemade look, as if he could have been voiced and animated by a remarkably intelligent 14-year-old.

Adult humans, who are significantly larger, are portrayed on screen in a matter-of-fact manner without attempting to be humorous. In this aspect, Marcel and his grandmother’s unconventional interactions with the likable human (Fleischer) may resemble something from a Spike Jonze film, but with less self-awareness and expertise. The appearance of a celebrity is not a major highlight as it would be in a comedy; Stahl’s role is significant, yet her fame does not disrupt the fourth wall.

This film is incredibly enjoyable and endearing, as it manages to turn confusion or frustration into fondness. The unique and humorous bond between adult Dean and his imaginary friend, the childlike seashell Marcel, is the standout friendship of the year.


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