Marcel The Shell With Shoes On

image for Marcel The Shell With Shoes On

Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 8 (themes, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Marcel The Shell With Shoes On
  • a review of Marcel The Shell With Shoes On completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 January 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to themes and scary scenes.
Children aged 6–8 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 8 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Marcel The Shell With Shoes On
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and a drug reference
Length: 90 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) is a one inch tall shell, with shoes and a face, who lives in a large, human’s, Airbnb house with his grandmother, Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Marcel once belonged to a large community of shells. Now only he, Nana Connie, and their pet ball of lint, Alan, are left. When a new resident to the house, amateur filmmaker, Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp), notices Marcel, he decides to make a documentary about Marcel and the innovative and resourceful ways this shell navigates daily life. Dean then posts the video on YouTube. The post goes viral, unearthing Marcel’s hope at finding his long-lost family and attracting the interest of Marcel’s favourite program, ‘60 Minutes’. However, when Marcel’s video fans and followers turn out to be more interested in taking selfies outside his house than helping find his family; his grandmother’s health deteriorates; and he realises how big the world outside his house really is, Marcel loses hope that he will ever see his family again. But will he?


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a loved one; Separation from family and community; Loss; Grief; Hope; Risk taking; Gratitude; Wellbeing; Mindfulness; Friendship; Community; Loneliness; Resilience; Creativity; Innovation; Fear of Change; Bravery; The Superficiality of Social Media.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • The couple who own the house have a few verbal arguments with raised voices. This scares the shell community.
  • When Marcel goes out with Dean to look for his family, he takes a pin and a match in preparation for any ‘fights’.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There is a flashback to a stormy night with thunder and lightning. The man and woman in the house are fighting. The large shell community (plus other small ‘items’ in the community) have a ‘shelter plan’ to keep everyone safe. The plan involves everyone hiding in the sock drawer. The scenes portray the terror the shell community are feeling.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Marcel really misses his family. He has engraved pictures of them on the back of a mirror.
  • Marcel cries as he tells the story about the disappearance his community. He says, “You could tell something was the matter. We had no warning”. Then he explains how everyone went into the sock drawer and the man dumped the drawer into a suitcase, and that’s how they left.
  • Marcel says he feels angry that they didn’t have a good goodbye.
  • Marcel recollects when his cousin fell asleep in a pocket and went through the washing machine, and they came out a completely different person.
  • Nana Connie’s health slowly deteriorates. She begins losing her memory, seemingly from dementia. Marcel looks after her. He says she has, “lost a small piece of a very large puzzle”.
  • Marcel is worried for his grandma when the dog gets too close and he has the dog sent away.
  • A squirrel gets into the house and runs around. Marcel and Nana Connie are fearful and run and hide.
  • When Marcel goes out with Dean to look for his family he gets car sick and vomits a few times in the car.
  • When Marcel and Dean return from their outing they are unable to find Nana Connie. They search the house frantically. Marcel finds that she had fallen off the dryer and her shell/head is cracked. She can’t remember how it happened.
  • After the fall, Nana Connie sleeps a lot and isn’t able to do much. Marcel looks after her and takes on the role as her caregiver.
  • Nana Connie pretends to be better so Marcel will do the 60 Minutes interview.
  • Before the 60 Minutes interview Marcel cries a lot. He is worried that everything will change. Nana Connie says, “It will”.
  • After the 60 Minutes interview, Marcel and Dean cannot find Nana Connie. Marcel finds her eventually but she has died. The scene is very emotional and Marcel cries. When he decorates her grave he says she was exactly what a grandma ought to be.
  • The scenes when Marcel eventually finds his family are quite emotional.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Airbnb
  • YouTube
  • 60 Minutes
  • Google
  • iPhones
  • Mac Computers
  • Mitsubishi
  • Crayola
  • Cheetos
  • Chex Mix.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Tampons (part of Marcel’s community) are shown with eyes and one with rabbit ears.
  • Marcel refers to pubic hairs as, “hearty hairs, long and strong”, which he finds clogged in the bathroom drain and uses to make rope.
  • Comments on Marcel’s YouTube video make reference to him as a “she” and liking his pink shoes. He retorts that both his dad and his granddad wore pink shoes.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Marcel jokingly makes kissing noises and says, “Ooh, baby, baby, ooh. I like to see people kiss on television”.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A cork is popped from a champagne bottle.
  • Having drunk “a little too much nectar”, a bee is seen lying on its side, drooling, then flies erratically, bumping into windows.
  • After his video goes viral, a meme is shown of Marcel, smiling and looking a bit hazy, with the caption, "When the kush hit you hard".
  • Dean finds Marcel eating pills in the bathroom.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh Jeez
  • Darn it
  • Shut up
  • Darn
  • What the?
  • Oh God.
  • Dang it
  • God dang it
  • Idiot.

In a nutshell

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is a combination of stop-motion animation blended with live-action actors and scenes. This ‘mockumentary’ is a feature-length film adaptation of the viral YouTube video series, from 2010, of the same name. Whilst only an inch tall, Marcel is a great role model, who openly states that he likes himself and has a lot of great qualities. The film covers some big themes and powerful messages with an abundance of gratitude and some great quotes, like, “Guess why I smile a lot? … Coz it’s worth it”. The slow pace of the film makes it best suited to families with tweens and older.

The main messages from this movie are the importance of friendship, family and community; and that in the face of adversity we should strive to “not just survive but to have a good life”.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Courage, bravery and being ‘fearless’.
  • Responsibility
  • Loyalty
  • Empathy
  • Acceptance.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of:

  • Community – Marcel says it takes 20 shells to make a community. What is your community like and who do you include in it? What does community look like if we consider we are part of a whole – connected to everything? In the online world of influencers and followers, can you see the difference between an ‘audience’ and a ‘community’?
  • Resilience – Marcel demonstrates a lot of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Does this help him to be more resilient? What can we learn from Marcel’s usually optimistic outlook?
  • Change – Change is inevitable so how can we embrace it. Think about some changes you were scared or worried about but then things worked out.