Jenny Slate talks ‘honest’ look at grief, dementia

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He may look like an adorable one-eyed mollusk, but “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is actually a Trojan Horse.

Adapted from the viral videos first released on YouTube in 2010, the stop-motion animated movie (now in theaters) follows a squeaky voiced, sneaker-wearing seashell named Marcel (Jenny Slate) who lives in a giant house with his grandma, Nana Connie (Isabella Rossellini).

Like the YouTube clips, the film delights in all the quirky ways that the 1-inch-tall Marcel inhabits the daunting human world: going fishing in a pot of soup, puttering around in a hollowed-out tennis ball and curling up on his hoagie-roll couch to watch TV.

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But underneath the seemingly cutesy concept is a much deeper story about community, loss and living with grief. At the beginning of the movie, we learn that Marcel once had a huge family, but they all mysteriously disappeared one day along with the homeowners. Marcel never had the chance to say goodbye, so he teams up with a documentary filmmaker (Dean Fleischer-Camp) who’s renting the house to start a social-media campaign to find them.

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