Mary and Max (2009)
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I'm not a big animation fan, so I wasn't looking forward to see this movie. I am currently working on the IMDb Top 250 list and Mary and Max just entered the IMDb top 250, so I took a look at it.
I watched it with a small screen on my computer while chatting with someone on Facebook. But then I logged out because I got hooked by the fantastic but sad narration mixed with humor by Barry Humphries, so I watched it with a big screen. Thank God that I did that, because this is an unforgettable and heartbreaking cinematic experience! It got fantastic narration and dialogue that will make you laugh and cry!
PS.There are many scenes that will choke you up, so bring some tissues.
PSS.Don't watch this movie with your kids!
I hope this review was useful!
But right from the opening frame, this film shattered any of my doubts. It's so refreshing to see a film told with such a strong unique vision and pulled off so effortlessly. This is made even more remarkable not only as it's made using stop motion animation but also because of the characters and subject matter it tackles.
Mary is an 8 year old outcast living in the suburbs of Melbourne. On a whim, she chooses a name at random in a phone book and sends off a letter asking about life on the other side of the world. The letter is received by Max, an overweight depressive in his 40's living in New York, suffering from Aspergers Syndrome. A friendship is born as the pair exchange letters over the next 20 years. offering each other support, advice and the chance to see life through another set of eyes.
While the world is painted in gloomy hues of brown and grey and the characters lead bleak lives, the genius of the script is that the characters never wallow or feel sorry for themselves. The tone is kept humorous and balanced allowing us to be moved by the characters as they stumble through life but also laugh at their foibles and observations of the world they struggle to fit into. Not since Muriel's Wedding has Australia produced so fine a comedy with such rich detail and I probably got even more laughs out of this.
My only criticism of the film would be some of its music particularly its use in one key scene of the Humming Chorus (already used so memorably in the finale of Heavenly Creatures). It meant that in a critical moment I was thinking of Kate Winslet up to no good instead of connecting with Mary & Max. But this is more a personal concern and if that's the weakest thing about the film, it's doing pretty well. I hope this film is seen by the wide audience it so richly deserves.
Following the short animated film, Harvey Krumpet, director Adam Elliot has constructed his first full feature claymation picture, displaying as much skill as many of the major mainstream studios. The film has been immaculately designed, with many tiny details and features placed into the sets, all of which would have taken many countless hours to mould. The lighting and colour scheme too are significant to the unique look of the film, ranging from highly saturated to almost entirely black and white, to reflect the self-depreciative and sometimes gloomy tone of the narrative. It is a film made of great patience and craftsmanship.
Yet the strongest asset of the film is the humour of the screenplay. Whereas many mainstream animated films such as Shrek and The Incredibles adopt a great deal of hilarity from their pop culture references, Elliot has an eye for the simpler things in life. From the way Mary and Max share their eating habits of chocolate hot dogs, to how Max describes his past jobs, including a street cleaner and a member of the Communist Party, the humour of the film remains truly original, bizarre and often very witty. Elliot excels in his ability write about the most normal things and then turn them on their heads, or degrade his miserable characters in the most hilarious way. Yet there are moments of poignancy too, such as where Mary describes her difficulty at school as she is teased for the birthmark on her forehead, that provide the film's screenplay with a subtext - no matter how simple – about isolation and the need for friends.
The use of Barry Humphries' voice over to convey much of the story is initially highly annoying and intrusive. In the opening scenes it feels overly used and distracting from the story and the detail of the scenes. Gradually though, as the film moves from its opening exposition, the voice over is used slightly less and its scarcity achieves the storybook quality and poetry that it deserves. Barry Humphries reads his lines beautifully. The rest of the voice actors too are splendid. Philip Seymour Hoffman is again in fine form, adding a slight accent to his voice and the decision to model his voice with a character of a similar physique fits nicely. He is quickly become one of the most diverse actors in the world. Bethany Whitmore as the young Mary is equally impressive too and her voice has a real innocence about it. Toni Collette and Eric Bana also have much smaller roles too. It is a well thought out voice cast and while some of the minor characters verge on grotesque, there is still a real sweetness about this film that carries it.
Elliot has described his film as being suitable for everyone. This is rather optimistic. I don't know how particularly young children, who have been conditioned by the more mainstream animated titles, would appreciate the film. It is extremely funny for the most part, but there is also a real sense of gloom around these characters that might not be as appealing to children. And towards the end, the film, despite being well under two hours, begins to lose a bit of momentum as the characters wave in and out of their depleted lives. Perhaps the films message of learning to live with your flaws and accepting the path life has given you is something that children, even if they don't entirely understand now though, needs to be seen anyway. Regardless, it remains a mostly sharp and funny film that many will find refreshing and engaging given the home-grown talent involved.
If You have not seen this You have no idea about how good it is.Its very well written (A True Story) , well Directed, narrated and equally good Animation in all respects. You don't Find Much stuff like this.
Its would get a rating of Pg-13 because of sex related material but I think every Children of 10+ should see this because the sex related material is kept very implicit.
I hope It will get Nominated for best Animation for year 2011, Best screenplay and best picture as well.
I have much more to say but since I have to review lot more movies I will just tell ya: I just Love It.
9.5/10. (Better than all animations of 2009) Can't wait to see it in top 250.
"Mary and Max" is an unforgettable and heartbreaking bleak tale of friendship and loneliness. The story is bittersweet and witty, with an ironic black humor and provokes the most conflictive emotions in the viewers, funny in a moment, and depressive in the other. The excellent animation follows the dark style of Tim Burton and the screenplay is a profound insight in human behavior. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Mary and Max – Uma Amizade Diferente" ("Mary and Max – A Different Friendship")
This movie shows the audience what people with asperges syndrome go through in day to day life, and how they don't understand things that most people would. As well as how they do/do not cope with some issues.
This movie is not for children. It is quite sad, but with some really funny parts. and for those who live in Melbourne, especially, you will understand some of the references.
I give this movie 10/10.
After 5 years in the making it is definitely worth watching
Well, this animated picture can not be a PIXAR production or even a American movie, but you can bet this is a stupendous Australian animated feature... I only hope that "Mary & Max" get some nominations around the world, like it happened with "Persepolis" or "Vals Im Bashir", its quite possible it reach the 2010 Oscars... And it would be such a pleasure!
The story line is superb, noble and above all it has the ability to describe many rotten realities of our society, so if you didn't see it yet, please, make a favor to yourself and spend a very well done hour lurking this two suffering, sad and nevertheless comic lifes, of an Australian girl and an American middle age man!
"Mary and Max" is not to be missed... 10 out of 10
It's an intriguing tale, starting in the mid seventies, of the ongoing true friendship of two long distance pen-pals, younger Mary in rural Australia and older Max in the rat-race of New York City. A significant element of the story involves Max's experience of living with Asperger Syndrome, knowing painfully full well that he senses the world in a radically different way to most. I've never seen any other project deal so honestly and powerfully with that condition. It's a genuine celebration of the value of difference.
There's lots to laugh and think about - and the attention to detail is staggering. Australia's living legend Barry Humphries excels as the narrator.
I loved the soundtrack which strongly featured two of my favourite Penguin Cafe Orchestra compositions. I've ordered the soundtrack CD already.
There is a growing trend amongst publishers and in Hollywood, where the writer is strongly urged to rather show the story rather than tell it. This is fine for certain works, especially action films, but I personally believe that the aforementioned edict is a steaming pile of moronic dribble. People are more than intelligent enough to garner rich satisfaction from being provided a story in any form as long as the story itself holds interest. Its worked fine for all the classics in literature, most of which are still being read in droves, but many believe that audiences are stupid and need to shown everything and must capture their attention in the first five seconds. Indeed, most manuscripts are rejected based upon their first page, a ridiculous scenario.
In this case, there is much in the way of telling via the voice-over of the wondrous Barry Humphries and yet the visuals provide us with an extra layer on information, working with the voice-over rather than being hindered by it. Occasionally it goes on too long, but Adam Elliot is incredibly brave in wanting to tell this story his way. Aside from stylistic similarities to his earlier shorts, he has remained true to himself. He thanks a lot of people in regards to his script; its clear he has made the effort to get it right, proving the basic notion in screen writing, is to get right on the page first folks. The script is a gem, finding the humor in a rather grim tale, without ever being patronizing to the characters or their plight. If anything, he manages to reinforce their humanity.
The choice of music is ideal, setting a tone that is complimentary and yet as though these classical pieces were designed specifically for this wide, but often claustrophobic gray universe. I hope audiences embrace it on the big screen as there is glorious detail lurking in the background, providing an extra chuckle or irony for the keen eye. If there was ever a reason to leave the home theater, this is it. Mary and Max is a brilliant, entertaining work of visual art combined with depth and grace.
There was a couple of moments when I raised eyebrows at certain things that didn't fit correctly for the late seventies, such as the mention of Stephen Hawking as well as cigarette patches (which debuted in the early 90's) but otherwise this laugh out loud, tear to the eye unique celluloid experience is one of the standouts of the year.
Based partly on Elliot's own life experiences, Mary and Max is a feature about two people leading a mundane existence on the fringe of society; finding solace only in their heartfelt pen-pal letters to each other. Mary Daisy Dinkle (voiced by Bethany Whitmore and Toni Collette) is a chubby, friendless 8-year-old living in the suburbs of Melbourne with her neglectful parents. One day, Mary randomly selects a name from the Manhattan phone book and writes a letter to him. She chooses Max Horovitz (Hoffman); a severely obese 44-year-old Jewish man with Asperger's Syndrome living in the chaos of New York City. It turns out they have a lot in common - beyond loneliness and a complete lack of friends, they share a love of chocolate and a TV show called The Noblets. Thus begins a 20-year correspondence, with their friendship surviving more than the average diet of life's ups and downs.
There's plenty of playful narration (almost constant) courtesy of Aussie legend Barry Humphries which gives the film the feel of a children's tale, but Mary and Max is not for kids. The movie doesn't shy away from covering an array of mature, confronting issues, such as depression, sexuality, suicide, obesity and mental illness. Unlike most mainstream movies in which friendship saves the day and everybody is happy, Mary and Max is unmistakably dark - both physically dark, and dark in its depiction of reality. Max is never able to lose weight, and Mary can never escape the shadow of her parents. Mary eternally resides in her brown-tinged Melbourne suburb, while Max's New York City is depicted as a grey metropolis whose only bright colours are those that come from Mary (a red pompom, for instance). The predominantly colourless and ominous cityscape of NYC is clearly symbolic of Max's melancholy, mental distress and isolation. The ending in particular underlines the film's dark disposition; showing that in real life there may be happy middles, but happy endings are almost non-existent. But despite this, Mary and Max is by no means a highly depressing venture; it's a cinematic delight, with its downbeat content matched by constant laughs, a super- abundance of heart, and several deeply moving moments. Somehow, all of this is squeezed into an 85-minute timeframe, which at times feels longer due narrative simplicity and the occasional pacing issues. This is probably to be expected, however, as Elliot has only previously worked on shorts.
Even though a mere claymation short could take up to a year to create, old-school animators such as Adam Elliot and his team display a palpable affection for this approach. Mary and Max spent a total of five years in the making, with six dedicated animation teams working under Elliot's direction in a converted factory in Melbourne, and each team creating an average of 4 seconds of footage per day. A huge kudos to Adam Elliot and his claymation team for creating such a vivid, picturesque world here, with the grim landscape evoking a film-noir feel. Every one of the characters, created from plasticine, is intricately and lovingly detailed. The detail does generate the illusion that we're watching a computer-animated movie, yet the painstaking claymation process affords a look, feel and soul that has yet to be replicated through computers. One must have patience and passion to undertake a stop-motion feature of such scale, and these are two qualities Adam Elliot infinitely exerts.
Another tremendous pleasure of Mary and Max is the voice cast; a cornucopia of vocal talent from across the globe. Without a doubt, Philip Seymour Hoffman has proved one of the most versatile actors of recent years with his exceptional vocal work (Capote, anyone?), and he's virtually unrecognisable here. This is, of course, the true essence of voice acting - a viewer should not be given the chance to focus on the actor providing the voice, but instead the character they are voicing. Meanwhile Bethany Whitmore is effortlessly endearing as the young Mary, and Toni Collette is pitch-perfect as Mary in her later years.
Through an immense artistry as well as an evident maturity emanated by the makers, Mary and Max affirmatively and genuinely answers a potent question: is there someone for everyone? In adulthood, we understand that we're born into our families but choose our friends, and the 20- year friendship between these two vastly different yet curiously similar individuals proves the theory. Adam Elliot's ambitious first feature- length claymation movie is an absolute delight, merging witty laughs with heartfelt emotion to generate this genuinely moving slice of animation. Mary and Max is, at least for this reviewer's money, the best animated motion picture of 2009 (yes, better than Up). After the terrific Harvie Krumpet and now this, it's clear Elliot is a highly talented filmmaker one should keep an eye on in future years.
A good place to begin is by pointing out that Adam Elliot painstakingly created a broken world here. The inhabitants of this world are, with few exceptions, wounded or maimed. It is a world not governed by a loving God, but by chance.
By chance, Max Jerry Horovitz has asperger's syndrome.
By chance, Mary Daisy Dinkle was born with a birth mark that looks like a poo stain, has an alcoholic mother, and stumbles upon a stray rooster.
By chance, the two become pen pals.
Mary and Max's lives and relationship with one another are at the heart of movie. Both have miserable/nonexistent family structures. Both are so alienated from society that two of their main sources of pleasure come from eating and watching a television show called "The Noblets." About halfway through the movie, I came to the realization that "Mary and Max" is really a portrait of contemporary, industrialized societies. War, poverty, alcoholism, bullying, obesity, mind-numbing careers, distrust, distorted body images, suicide, mental illness, loneliness, half-hearted self-help books - heck, even siphoning off charitable donations is covered in a quick 80 minutes.
One of Elliot's most impressive accomplishments in the movie is the pace: we feel the sluggishness and lethargy of the two main characters.
Yet, Elliot also treats us to many disarmingly hilarious scenes. One minute you'll be cringing, the next you'll be genuinely moved, and in a blink, you'll be grinning ear to ear. Sounds like a microcosm of life itself.
The quotation that closes "Mary and Max" invokes God in a surprising way. I honestly don't know what to make of it.
In my opinion, "Mary and Max" is a work of high art and one of the finest movies I have seen in a long time. It will stay with you. A must see.
Watch out for the exceptional score and songs of the Picture!
One day while her mother is out 'borrowing' supplies from the local post-office, Mary hits upon the idea of writing someone on the other side of the world to ask whether or not babies come from the same place as they do in Australia. According to her grandfather, who has recently passed away at the start of the film, babies come from the bottom of beer glasses, a fact that Mary is utterly intrigued by and one she is compelled to explore further.
After randomly selecting a prospective pen-pal in New York City, she sends her crudely scribbled inquiries to a Mr. Max Jerry Horowitz (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), as well as a bar of chocolate. Max is a morbidly obese, middle-aged Jew-turned-Athiest that lives alone at the top of a decaying domicile. He attends Overeaters Anonymous meetings and is prone to severe anxiety attacks. Plagued by his eccentricities and his inability to form meaningful relationships with anyone, Max is gripped by a sudden uncontrollable panic attack after reading Mary's letter. Eventually he responds to his new pen-pal and the two begin a correspondent friendship that last several decades.
I believe Mary and Max to be one of those rare treasures you stumble upon accidentally and never quite forget. Its an absolutely beautiful story rich in both the mastery and detail of the animation and also memorable character development. Elliot does a superb job of crafting characters that are ultimately shaped by their idiosyncrasies. Also the atmospheres he create for both Mary and Max make you fully appreciate the respective isolation felt by each title character. In one realm you have Max's noirish New York that represents his inherent pessimism and distrust. With Mary you have a muted Sepia feeling that represents parental neglect and abandonment.
It's a clever black comedy that left me incredibly refreshed and pleased with my Saturday Night.
Read this and other reviews on the DriveInZeppelin website
I don't have a lot to say about this movie that hasn't already been said. Everything from the animation to the voice acting to the story is absolutely fantastic and I would highly recommend watching.
Brief, this is a story of two underrated members of two superficial communities who have the luck to find each other. The plot is sad and the ending is even sadder - but it makes you smile in the end, thinking that anyone can find a friend, exactly when they less expect.
Five years later, Elliot comes back with his first feature film Mary and Max. As impressed as I was with Harvie Krumpet I was doubly impressed with this one. He uses the same style of animation only this time his skills are much more precise, detailed, and effective. He tells the story of Mary Daisy Dinkle, a young girl living in 1970s Australia who has no friends except for her pet rooster and favorite television show. One day she decides to reach out across the world to someone who might be her friend. She finds a New York City phone book picks out a random name: Max Jerry Horovitz.
Max lives alone in his apartment with his one eyed cat and pet fish (who he needs to constantly replace). He is an overweight, middle aged man with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. He too has no friends and is in need of some companionship, although he is somewhat afraid of the outside world and strangers. He finally decides to write her back, and the two begin their friendship across the sea.
The film is comprised of narration, by Barry Humphries, and voice over from Mary and Max reading their letters, voiced by Bethany Whitmore as younger Mary, Toni Collette as older Mary, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Max. Their letters and the in between narration is hysterical and incredibly clever. I like the little tidbits we are given like the way Mary's mother drinks her sherry and how Max eats chocolate hot dogs, his own recipe. They make the characters more interesting.
Elliot creates a vivid world filled with right and wrong. He uses colors to define the two different continents, giving Australia brown and earthy tones while New York is black, white, and everything in between, with the exception of a red pompom that Mary sends Max. Much like their separate worlds, they both blend in as if no one else would notice them. These characters are simple, average people who go the distance to make their lives a little more comfortable. It's sublime to see these characters grow up through the years and age and learn. We become so attached.
There is so much to love about this movie. The quirky little one liners to the incredibly detailed and well done stop motion animation. Each character has clearly defined features, unique movement, and like so many stop motion pieces, there is nothing jumpy or out of place about the animation. It is smooth, coherent, and compelling to watch. As impressive as it is the writing is just as good. You really get a feeling for these characters through the narration and their writing. If there was some way you could help them out you would. They are just so lovable.
This is one of the best films I have seen this year. It's a wonderful film aimed at a more mature audience. I don't know if it can compete with Disney and Pixar's Up, but I wouldn't be surprised to see this at least get a nomination from the Academy, as it has already been honored at this year's Berlin International Film Festival. It's a great achievement when a film can make you feel so happy the entire way through.
In comparable style to Wallace and Gromit, the film uses it's charming and silly style to great effect by relating two unique characters. A middle-aged man with social disabilites named Max Jerry Horovitz receives a letter one day from an inquisitive little Australian girl named Mary Daisy Dinkle. The two via letters relate to one another instantly, and an amazing bond of friendship begins.
About 2 hours ago I finished watching this flick and I'm still beaming. It's really a special, special film that just screams perfection. I feel bad for the people who'll look at the cover and dismiss it due to being animated, as this will most undoubtedly happen. But lucky for me and you, huh?
The film begins in Australia and concerns a very lonely girl named Mary. Her parents are completely inept at parenting and mostly she entertains herself. One day, on a lark, she rips a name out of an American phone book and writes to a "M. Horowitz"--telling him about herself as well as asking him where babies come from in America. As Max Horowitz is a socially inept odd-ball, his response to her strange letter is amusing to say the least. And, through their ensuing letters to each other they become friends--an 8 year-old girl and a 40+ year-old man and the film consists of showing each writing and narrating their letters.
Where this bizarre business goes, you'll just need to see for yourself. However, without spoiling the film, I can safely say that I never, ever could predict where the film would go next!! Like all of Adam Elliot films, the film is just plain odd--with a delightful strangeness you can't help but like. And, even more than his shorter films, you can't believe how much time and effort he took to make this movie. It's amazing....really. And, fortunately, his work is totally unique and inventive. Aside from his previous shorts, I've never seen anything like it--and I am pretty sure you'll feel the same way if you try this delightfully strange film. Just don't try to understand or make sense of it...it might just make your brain explode. Oh, and do NOT watch it if you are feeling depressed. Although it's got lots of funny moments, the film is VERY, VERY dark--so much so that you should think twice before watching it. And, although the film looks like a kids movie, I would probably think twice before showing it to young kids.
The story is about a girl with structural limits: appearance, family, attitude.
The media is stop motion, which brings its own structural limits. These are severe limits, because they straddle what we know as real and what we accept as fantasy. How to work with this? The choices a filmmaker makes in this medium are fascinating.
Jan Svankmajer presents the result as moving museum art, dynamic dioramas. He can be too precious in that Eastern European way that produces needlework that frightens.
Tim Burton, and Henry Selick ("Coraline," "James and the Giant Peach") pretend we are looking at illustrated books the way a child would.
Nick Park treats the medium the way Walt Disney would, as a simple extrapolation from Donald Duck via way of Pixar.
These guys decide not to tackle the simple fact that it is near impossible to elicit real emotion via this form.
Only the Quay Brothers and Christiane Cegavske ("Blood Tea and Red String") make the commitment to create worlds by allowing the characters to inhabit them in a way that inhabitants are worldcreators. They affect a bizarre Victorian metaphors but this is because Lewis Carroll is the genius of this technique and not because the era has any intrinsic advantage. There are powerful and worldchanging moments in these works. But the viewer is asked to make a commitment that few will.
All lucid stop-motion filmmakers face this set of decisions about how to overcome the limits of the medium. If you are writing a story while struggling with this, what is foremost in your mind? Especially if you are Australian, is a society that for some reason is introspective in art? You will produce a "folded" story: one where the subject of the story reflects the form of the story.
We have a girl in Australia who is obsessed with a successful TeeVee show, also stop motion. It is her fantasy world, the movie within the movie. She faces many challenges in simply surviving. She has a pen pal, and successfully writes her way out her limits, first by writing a book about her viewer's physiological limits. (More about this in a minute.) And then by getting a genuine expression of emotion from him in the form of a complete set of figures from the inner film. She triumphs, has child (all this is pretty overt folding) and finally visits the world of her pen pal to discover that she not only affected him, but was effectively his whole emotional life. The medium is mastered.
The two actors chosen are among our very few who understand folded characterization.
This half of the project is fascinating in the normal way that these nested, introspective things are, and is worthwhile. But it is the other half that is amazing.
Mary is our filmmaker, and Max our viewer. Us.
Half of the problem a filmmaker faces is the limits of her medium, and the other half the limits of the viewer. Most of us are emotional cripples, not inclined to work with an artist in a contract of world-building. We are afraid. Max is a citizen of the most urban and sophisticated city on the planet (in contrast to Mary's remote outpost). But he has Asberger Syndrome and is incapable of reading and processing emotion.
This characterizes us viewers pretty well; our movie experiences are often exercises in avoiding truth. I found it rare and thrilling to see it explicit in this nested work, which is superficially sweet but essentially damning.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.