09 January 2014

Movie Review: Mary and Max by Adam Elliott

Title: Mary and Max
Director(s): Adam Elliott
Genre(s): Animation, Comedy, Drama
Release Date (USA): January 15, 2009
Rating: NR
"People often think I am tactless and rude. I cannot understand how being honest can be improper. Maybe this is why I don't have any friends.” -Max Jerry Horovitz
In the mid-1970's, a homely, friendless Australian girl of 8 picks a name out of a Manhattan phone book and writes to him; she includes a chocolate bar. She's Mary Dinkle, the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distracted father. He's Max Horowitz, living alone in New York, overweight, subject to anxiety attacks. He writes back, with chocolate. Thus begins a 20-year correspondence, interrupted by a stay in an asylum and a few misunderstandings. Mary falls in love with a neighbor, saves money to have a birthmark removed and deals with loss. Max has a friendship with a neighbor, tries to control his weight, and finally gets the dream job. Will the two ever meet face to face? (synopsis from IMDB)

Though most cartoons are meant for younger viewers, Mary and Max most certainly is not. The seriousness of its topics like death, sex, suicide and mental illness definitely requires a more mature audience. But, trust me, as serious as it sounds, you don't wanna miss it! It's a simple story with a BIG message about the value and beauty of oddness and unconventional friendship. You don't quite know if you're watching a tragedy or a comedy and perhaps it's a mix of both. But ultimately, it doesn't matter. The point is to feel something and you feel a lot of everything when you're watching the life-long journey of these mismatched friends. The characters, Mary and Max, are like the Odd Couple meets Sigmund Freud.

Mary and Max is touching, poignant and funny in a very raw and immature sort of way. But what makes this little gem so fantastic is the juxtaposition of the artsy sophistication when contrasted against the emotional crudeness. For starters, the animation is impressive. The whole movie is desaturated, lacking vibrancy that cleverly mimics the vulnerability in both Mary and Max's lives. I'd venture to say that the animation rivals that of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas or, dare I say it, a Pixar flick.

I know! But seriously, it's an art form, one that Elliott's got down. It's pretty incredible.

Quirky, charming and eclectic. Those are just a few of the words I'd use to describe this film. Seriously, it's hard to do it justice with my meager words because I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. While I recognize this movie won't be everyone's cup of tea, Mary and Max is one of those hidden gems that you should give a chance. I promise, you won't regret it.

Summary Prognosis
Mary and Max is not your average cartoon. Raw, poignant, funny and charming, this Sundance Film Festival opener is a touching story about friendship, self-acceptance and love. This won't necessarily be everyone's cup of tea, but for an eclectic and appreciative few, this compelling little gem is a MUST SEE! 

Rating: ★★★★★

Watch It: Amazon | Target
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
View the Trailer:

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