The best film of the year is about a little talking shell

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Four adults rave about a truly must-see kids’ movie.

Marcel the shell is love

What about this little shod shell? A hero, a friend to all, the voice of a generation and the absolute bastion of goodness, purity and kindness. I initially felt quite embarrassed to be one of the many moody millennials meandering around the block to get into a kids movie, but when the lights went out the camera focused and we heard the little voice of little Marcel again, all that self-awareness and cynicism dissipated.

I love everything about it. I loved Marcel’s little smile. I loved how Marcel scaled the walls with honey. I loved every time Marcel sang. I loved Grandma’s shell. I loved remembering that the internet is a very dumb place. I loved how it made me think about what my own family would be like. I loved every moment of her journey juggling gargantuan internet fame with the trappings of being a very small shoe-wearing shell, something we can all relate to.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a perfect film (and not only because it is less than 98 minutes). It’s sweet without ever being sickening, swapping nostalgia without ever getting into the desperate territory of Space Jam (2022) and kindly asking us to think about much of our modern online lives without ever feeling like a #lookup bullcrap preacher . While raising awareness of seashell car sickness? I hope the Academy is listening. / Alex Casey

Marcel the shell is community

There are people who have no idea who Marcel is and then there are people who have been obsessed with Marcel for many years. There’s no in-between because it’s impossible to watch Marcel The Shell With Shoes On discuss his life and his community without becoming obsessed. I was first obsessed in 2010, when I was 16, using classroom computers during school vacation to watch viral videos. We were a group quoting Marcel for the next two years until we left school and went to different universities. When a book by Marcel was published at the end of 2011, I bought it for my friend after I hadn’t caught up with her in over six months (a life when you get out of school). Marcel connects people like that.

Marcel has been out of the public consciousness for a while now, but it’s always a joy to find someone else in the shell-obsessed community, be it a co-worker, neighbor or potential life partner. Until this year, there wasn’t really an easy way to ask “did you see that hull video from 2010?” But now you can and it’s a pure human litmus test. If they have seen him and like Marcel, they move on. If they haven’t seen it, they have a chance to rectify the situation. If they liked him and didn’t like him or if they find Marcel to be the healthiest being on this cursed planet, leave immediately.

In April, I shared the movie trailer on my Instagram because of course I was very excited. I was also curious to know who among my followers was in the community. And by that, I mean I was very curious to know where my relatively new girlfriend was. She answered immediately:

I actually got sick of sharing this screenshot, but Marcel wished it was included.

Oh yes, the film is heartwarming and heartbreaking and I would recommend it to anyone or anyone. / Madeleine Chapman

Marcel the shell is a tearful

I was unprepared for the cinematic journey I was about to take with Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. I laughed, I cried. I laughed while crying, I cried while laughing. At one point, according to my significant other, I made one of those sniffles like an old person at the opera. If I had had a handkerchief, I would have wiped away a single tear.

It’s quite common these days for kids movies to be overloaded with hashtag “themes” that can be taken out of the cinema and incorporated into everyday life. In that sense, Marcel is no different from your Pixar or Disney fare. But I found Marcel’s journey of belonging and the need to belong more than just relatable, but compelling. I am not a shell, but just like a shell, I sympathize with the need for family, friendship and companionship. But what puts Marcel even higher above your usual children’s film is the intelligent humor and compassion with which this story of life and death is told.

There’s also a pitch-perfect subplot on the current affairs show 60 Minutes that reminded me of the importance of investigative journalism. Not the most important theme, of course, but a nice touch.

Until now, I thought Paddington and Paddington 2 were the wholesome but heartbreaking pinnacle of the genre. Movies ostensibly made with children in mind but somehow very adult-oriented. Marcel is now the champion of the genre. It’s just a perfect movie. / Stewart Sowman-Lund

Marcel the shell is my idol

It’s been over a decade since I first encountered Marcel – the charming anthropomorphic shell with a singular googly eye and shoes – in the form of a viral video on YouTube. At the time, some friends and I huddled around a computer screen at lunchtime anxiously waiting for a few minutes video of the very cute and very self-confident little shell to load onto the ‘screen. Laugh and repeat. Laugh and repeat.

Arriving at the cinema this weekend, I wondered how the twee, goofy humor of that era would translate into a feature film, in 2022 anyway. But after 98 minutes of jostling between laughter and tears, I came out the other side believing with conviction that Marcel the Shell is exactly what the world needs right now.

Although it is a relatively short feature film, which literally zooms in on the Lilliputian universe of Marcel and his grandmother Connie, the whole story is full of lessons. About community, about internet culture, about loss.

We don’t often see the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren given a special place on the big screen, let alone a portrayal filled with such sweetness. Among the chaos inflicted on the couple by the enormous human world around them, they find creativity, tenderness, humor and respect for each other. But never without a sense of curiosity to find out how they fit into everything around them.

Between crying and cackling, I found myself desperately trying to pull off Marcel’s insightful banter (“Guess why I’m smiling a lot. Uh, because it’s worth it”) or the succinct roasts he throws at the dogs (“Quel sad type of idiot”) in memory. Partly because these little shells are my idols, but above all because it’s a film you want to wear. Marcel the Shell proves that the greatest connection is found in the smallest things. / Charlotte Muru-Lanning

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is screened as part of Whānau Mārama (New Zealand International Film Festival). Click here for the full program.

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