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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Marcel models ingenuity and creativity in his approach to overcoming obstacles and solving problems.
Stresses importance of family, community, and connection, as well as doing the necessary thing, even when it's difficult or scary. Shows transformative power of friendship. Demonstrates that you can connect with people online and see the world virtually -- i.e., even if your world is small in scope, you can find ways to explore. Addresses idea of an audience vs. a community and the idea that helping someone just for show isn't really useful. Points out that sometimes you have to dive into life.
Positive Role Models
Marcel is brave, loyal, a dedicated grandshell to Nana Connie, constantly thinking of her needs and putting them first. He also demonstrates gratitude and perseverance. Nana Connie loves Marcel and wants to encourage him to be brave and take risks, to open up and dive into life. Dean is helpful most of the time.
Marcel's character and story show that people (and shells) shouldn't be limited by their size or stature. Nana Connie is a strong, independent female shell.
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Violence & Scariness
The shells face lots of peril in the world -- from dogs, squirrels, people, heights, falling objects, the washing machine, etc. Nana Connie falls and is injured, her shell cracked. There's a sad loss, which is followed by grief. When heading out into the world, Marcel packs a nail and a match to use as weapons if necessary. A couple argue.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
It's implied that Marcel finds pubic hair ("hearty hairs," he calls them) in the shower/bath and uses them for his projects. Marcel makes kissy noises to be funny and says "ooh, baby, baby" -- he has seen kissing on television.
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Rare use of words/phrases including "dang it," "idiot," "oh my God," "shut up," "tush."
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Products & Purchases
YouTube, Airbnb, and 60 Minutes play prominent roles in the story. Other products seen/mentioned include Sister Act, Diet Coke, Google, Mitsubishi, Crayola, Starbucks, iPhone, and Mac computers.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Marcel says that a bee behaving in a tipsy way has had too much nectar. A cork is popped during a celebration.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a sweet, poignant live-action/animated mockumentary based on the popular short films about a one-inch-tall anthropomorphic shell named Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) that gained popularity on YouTube in the early 2010s. The story follows Marcel's quest to find his long-lost family with the help of a human filmmaker. Characters deal with loss and express their grief; the shells face everyday perils like animals, heights, and feet; and Marcel packs weapons (a nail and a match) when heading out into the world. But overall this is a very mild, gentle film with strong messages about the importance of family, doing the right thing even when it's hard, and the transformative power of friendship. Language is limited to rare exclamations like "dang it" and "oh my God," there's a kissing reference, and a cork pops during a celebration. While the content is appropriate even for young elementary schoolers, the film's intentionally calm pace and focus on talk over action make it a better fit for tweens and up. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Sweet, poignant, and funny -- but also intentionally calm and thoughtful -- this movie about a tiny shell's unique perspective on life will have you looking at your own surroundings in new ways. Based on a popular series of YouTube videos from the early 2010s, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a stop-motion labor of love that took more than six years for Slate and Fleischer-Camp to make. And while fans of the original videos will appreciate the callbacks to jokes about things like Marcel using toenails for skis, there's so much more in this longer version of Marcel's story. The care that clearly went into creating Marcel and his world is evident in every scene, from his tiny honey footprints on the walls (the honey helps him stick) to the elaborate systems he sets up to gather food and move around his house.
While Marcel's journey to find his family feels huge and intimidating to him, it's important to remember that all of this is happening on shell scale. Young kids or those expecting action and adventure may find their attention wandering while Marcel putters around his house and decides what to do. But for those who are able to focus on this tiny hero and what he learns about family, friendship, and taking necessary risks, this lovely little film will have a big impact.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.