review | ‘Marcel the Shell wears shoes’ adorable (maybe too cool?) – The Washington Post

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(2.5 stars)

We can stipulate that Jenny Slate, stand-up comedian, creator and star of 2014’s Tricky Comedy…clear kidIn Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, this A-game performs as the title character, a small one-eyed shell and a pair of pink shoes, which has become an intriguing subject for a documentary filmmaker named Dean (Dean Fleischer Camp).

Based on a short film released in 2010 by Slate and Fleischer-Camp to a resounding spread, followed by a short sequel, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” stretches original fiction to its thin, absurd, and sometimes padded borders. In an almost infant voice meant for people talking to their pets (the sinners), Marcel explains how his “community” was destroyed when the couple who owned the house they were living in separated. While most of Shell’s extended and elect family unwittingly moved in with the pair, Marcel and “Nana Kone” are left behind to mend life together and overcome mutual loneliness and grief. Think “The Leftovers” meets ET, with tables of bottle caps and zip lines made of “ultra-hard bristles.”

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You ask what is “hard hair”? The answer is just one of several entertaining parts in “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” which combines stop-motion and live-action animation to create a world of magic, creativity, and projects you shouldn’t grumble about. This world is hard, too, and navigated at a snail’s pace: watching Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is adjusting not only one’s point of view, but the entire metabolism.

For the most part, Fleischer Camp — who directed “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” from a script and story he co-wrote with Slate, Elizabeth Holm and Nick Paley — rewards commitment, though there are moments when the movie feels like she’s come to earn her runtime that It is approximately 90 minutes. When Marcel decided to find his family, he became an unexpected internet star, leading him into an amazing world of likes, tweets, and conquering legions of fans by taking selfies; His obsession with “60 Minutes”—”we just call it ‘The Show,’ We Love It So Much,” gushes—results in a thrilling invitation to appear on the show, resulting in a sequence that would earn Leslie Stahl this year’s Good Sport Oscar. There are some scathing criticisms of social media’s self-deconstructing (it turns out the audience isn’t a community after all) and the documentary ethic of balance and self-disclosure, trapped between gently thrown jokes and set pieces. And for his core audience, at least, Marcel’s subtle humanism is just the fitting balm to a period mired in despair and mutual disregard.

It’s all very cute and even genuinely touching, thanks to the soulful voice performance of Isabella Rossellini as Connie. (In the preview of the show, I noticed that the actress playing her sounded like Ingrid Bergman with an Italian accent: Voila.) But by the time Marcel the Shell Wears Boots reaches a warm conclusion, it begins to meander, its sad evocation of time and loss, giving way to unexplained goofs and focus-crushing distractions. Even an honest and wise character like Marcel is not above fan service, even if it means gently taking a captivating idea an inch too far.

PG. in the theaters of the region. Contains some suggestive material and mature thematic elements. 89 minutes.

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