Watch Every Short That Inspired The Marcel The Shell With Shoes On Movie

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I wish there was a way to properly convey in text the high-pitch screaming of "OH MY GOD, MARCEL, I LOVE YOU!" I did this morning when the trailer for "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" dropped. The first foray into family-friendly films for A24, the live-action/animation hybrid centers on everyone's favorite googly-eyed seashell (voiced by Jenny Slate) as he grapples with newfound internet fame, his budding friendship with filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp, caring for his ailing grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini), and trying to find the rest of his shell family. 

"Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" won over audiences at SXSW, with the little anthropomorphic seashell captivating anyone who also feels like there's a space in their heart getting bigger and louder every day. But the feature-length story is actually inspired by Fleisher-Camp's viral short films of the same name from the early 2010s, which even lead to a successful children's book. The beauty of Marcel the Shell is that he doesn't have to try very hard to get audiences to invest in his story, and the delightful shell isn't a particularly complicated lil' guy. However, if you're curious about the humble beginnings of Marcel the Shell and are hoping to gain a bit more insight before the feature film's release, all three of the original "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" short films are still readily available on YouTube.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, One

When we're first introduced to Marcel, he explains that he is partially a shell but has shoes on and a face, which is something he likes about himself. Marcel likes himself and feels that he has a lot of good qualities. Given the cynical nature of our current existence, just hearing someone, anyone, anything say, "I like myself," is already a refreshing break from reality.

Co-writer/director/co-star Dean Fleischer-Camp interviews Marcel in his daily life as he expresses very human emotions, like minor embarrassment over his living space looking messy after friends from upstate visited to have salad, or excitement over getting to tell Dean that he wears lentils as a hat. Given Marcel's small stature, he discusses the ways he's managed survive in a human-sized world. There's something adorably "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" about it all, but from a perspective of someone who has never known anything else.

Marcel using a hair to tie skis (made of toenails from a man, of course) to his car or having cholesterol levels of over 900 from a single piece of cheese doesn't sound ridiculous, because it's part of Marcel's normal. He doesn't see the world or experience it the way we do, and a lot of the yucky parts of being human don't exist because of it. "Guess what I do for an adventure?" he asks. "Hang glide on a Dorito." There's a childlike wonder to Marcel who is so excited to tell you about all of the things he can do, rather than fixate on all of the things that he can't. This video is the perfect introduction to our little friend, because it's a video where Marcel is responding and telling stories in whatever way he feels fit, and the sincerity of what information he chooses to share is a great way to get a sense of our new friend's personality.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, Two

The first short gave us insight into Marcel's individual activities, but the second short allows us a deeper look at how Marcel interacts with the other creatures inhabiting his space. "Guess why the bus isn't running?" he asks. "Because the bus is a caterpillar and it threw up." The line of "guess why" questioning continues in this episode, and at no point does the bit grow stale. Marcel could ask a million questions about his life, and it would never be a waste of time. Around the midpoint of the short, Marcel confesses that he wants a nickname, but understands that a nickname is something that is bestowed upon you by others and not something you can just pick for yourself. If he did have a nickname, though, he'd want it to be Ace.

There's such an instinctual desire of belonging that comes from Marcel, despite the confidence he has in being himself. He likes himself and is proud of all that he is capable of achieving, but he's lacking in community. It feels like his excitement in talking to Dean is deeply rooted in his need to have a friend. Marcel also shares a home with a dog who only cares about "treats and snoozing," but still runs in terror and hides under the couch cushions whenever the dog starts barking. The world is a dangerous place for the little shell and even though he lost his sister Marissa after someone asked her to hold a balloon, there's still joy to be found. "Guess why I smile a lot?" he asks. "'Cause it's worth it."

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, Three

A few years after the first two shorts, Marcel returned once again for his documentary interview, but this time in the yard outside the house. Almost immediately, Marcel lets us in on the secret of shrimps ...that they're the idiots of the sea. Until this point we've mostly seen Marcel as perennially positive, but we know that he's not some otherworldly kind being, he can spot a big doofus as well as the rest of us. At one point he brings Dean a grape in the hopes that he'll eat it, because Marcel has told his other friends that he knows a guy who can eat a grape in one sitting and they all called "B.S." Dean immediately starts cracking up, and Marcel pushes back, "But you could, right?" It's so hard to explain without hearing Jenny Slate's voice, but there's so much emotional depth in his request for confirmation that I want to burst into tears.

Marcel gets caught in a storm for the very first time, and shortly after develops a sneeze. He writes it off as having allergies, but whenever he sneezes, it rockets his little shell body off of whatever platform he's sitting on. After flying off into the dirt, he tells Dean that he's embarrassed and asks him to cut the tape. It's one of the most vulnerable times we see Marcel, and a reminder that even this happy-go-lucky shell has insecurities too. Marcel finally makes it inside and he sings Dean a song that he learned at camp about coming to the end of a perfect day, allowing the perfect way to end the series. In under 15 minutes, the trilogy of "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" is the soothing escape to a better, kinder, sweeter world that we all need.

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" hits theaters on June 24, 2022. And don't forget, "life's a party, rock your body."