There are lots of BIG movies this summer, from “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion” to “Doctor Strange in Madness’s Multiverse.” But Top rated of all on Rotten Tomatoes is very, very small, with a protagonist no larger than a quarter!
Comedian, actress, and author Jenny Slate has voiced many cartoon characters, but she considers Marcel the Shell her best work. “He’s got this granite dignity, but he’s so small. I think there’s a lot of humor in watching something the wrong size.”
“Guess what I do for adventure? I fly in a Dorito.”
Slate created Marcel’s distinctive voice in 2010 when, to save money for a wedding, she shared a hotel room with five friends. “It’s so crowded there! And I just feel small. And all of a sudden, I start talking [in this tiny voice], This, this is like, I, like, can hardly move. I can’t move around!“
Her boyfriend, filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp, loved the new little character’s voice and decided to feature it in a short video. “I knew I wanted to do an animated short and something like that I hadn’t experimented with before,” he told reporter David Pogue.
Fleischer-Camp went to a toy store and art supply store and received a bunch of eyes and seashells. Three short minutes with Marcel the Shell as a huge hit on YouTube.
“Once I sipped a piece of cheese, and my cholesterol went up to 900.”
Over the next few years, the couple made two more videos of Marcel, which reached 48 million views and kept growing. They also published two books by Marcel, and got married.
Inevitably, Hollywood has called, with Hollywood’s BIG ideas. Fleischer-Camp said, “Someone even suggested we pair him with Ryan Reynolds and they fight crime together, it’s not a movie I will not understand!”
In the end, Fleischer-Camp and Slate found supporters that would give them full control. But to fill 90 minutes, they’ll have to expand Marcel’s emotional range, fill in his backstory and introduce new characters, like Marcel’s grandmother, voiced by Isabella Rossellini.
Pogue asked, “You know, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s what makes the shorts so special’?”
Fleischer-Camp replies, “I think part of that is, always double-checking yourself against the original and making sure it still has that kind of electricity, you know, that’s just too cool for you. shorts?” “
In the movie, Marcel and his grandmother watch “60 Minutes” together every Sunday night. “She likes Lesley Stahl,” Marcel commented. “She solves cases extensively, and she has classes.”
Luckily for the filmmakers, the real-life Lesley Stahl agreed to take on the role. “They wanted me to play it 100% straight,” she told Pogue. “So they hired a ’60 Minutes’ crew, a ’60 Minutes’ producer came in to produce the segment.” The film even uses footage of the crew. “I think it looks like a ’60 Minutes’ story when you see it.
“This movie has raised the bar for me in the eyes of my grandchildren,” Stahl laughs. “I mean, they’ve seen me on ’60 Minutes’, and I’m nothing. But to Marcel? This is huge for my family!”
Pogue asked, “Did it excite you to look at the next movie offer that came your way?”
“Well, let me say this: I’m ready. Here I am, a movie star!”
Dean Fleischer-Camp is also featured in the film, as the filmmaker’s primary off-screen voice. “I’m playing a version of myself that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said, “and I’m glad I’m not that person anymore.”
The film took seven years to make, because the filmmakers had to make it four times.
First, as a complete audio track. The second version added storyboards.
For the third turn, they shot a blank background for the entire movie without Marcel.
Finally, the team animated the little Marcel puppet, frame by frame, and added him to the background.
In the end, the marriage of the creators of Marcel did not exist. But their collaboration hits theaters on Friday: a film about a bald, armless, one-eyed young man on a quest to find his family.
Pogue said, “That the movie works is crazy.”
“Yes, I mean, of course it’s a huge risk,” Slate said. And yet, “It makes people feel, the same way I feel—a little guy who, you know, wants to be loved for your own dear smallness in this giant, weird cosmic plan. that we’re in.”
Fleischer-Camp says, “I love it when people comment on it and they say, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been rolling my eyes at this little shell with googly eyes.'”
To watch the trailer for “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”, click the video player below:
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The story is produced by Julie Kracov. Editor: Mike Levine.