***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!
Mary and Max - 5 out of 5
Claymation isn't a genre of animation often associated with bittersweet, depressing stories (Davey and Goliath doesn't count because the fact it exists at all is depressing in itself). However, Adam Elliot made a name for himself doing just that. It began in the late 90s with his family saga that told nearly auto-biographical short stories of family members that always leaned in the direction of "onion cutting" levels of tear flowing. Take my personal favorite in this short film trilogy Brother. Watch it and try not to cry...
After winning an Academy for the Geoffrey Rush narrated Harvey Krumpet, Elliot went on to make his first feature length film...but keeping his unique style and themes of being bittersweet intact. Mary and Max tells the story of a sad little Australian girl named Mary (voiced by Toni Collette) who has emotionally distant parents and no real friends. By chance and due to her curiosity about where babies come from in America (Mary was told that babies come from the bottom of beer mugs and she then hypothesized that in America they must come from the bottom of soda cans), Mary ends up getting a pen pal from New York named Max (Mary and Max, hence the title). Max (voice by Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a lonely, overweight eccentric who welcomes what could be possibly his only friend. Mary and Max, through snail mail, develop a friendship as they age.
Mary goes on to fall in love with her neighbor and they begin a complicated relationship that culminates after awkward courting that actually comes off as smooth and natural when compared to my courting advances to the fairer sex. Meanwhile, Max is diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Hardships hits the friends as Mary makes it her mission to find a cure for her pen pal but her efforts only incite the ire of the man as he feels he isn't sick. Their once strong and unique friendship is put to the test as hurt feelings and unfortunate circumstances strike both their lives...and they haven't even met each other in person.
Mary and Max is an emotional story told beautifully through amazing animation of a friendship stronger than steel--even though the two live on opposite ends of the world and aren't even of the same generation! Both Mary and Max are completely different souls walking two different paths in the world but it's through their own unique way they see their surroundings that they discover that no one is truly alone and that you just need to keep looking for that person who understands you best--or in Mary and Max's case, accidentally stumble upon them while trying to unravel the mystery of where babies come from.
|After vomiting for 15 minutes straight, this is the face I had after watching Battleship.|
|Hey a wedding...I already find this wedding to be more|
entertaining than that big and fat Greek wedding.
Like all other of Elliot's works, Mary and Max isn't a bright fairy tale--even his usual style of claymation is done entirely in monochromatic colors of blacks, grays and browns. The story comes off very sad and heart-breaking but hopeful and joyous at the same time. The movie will make you laugh and cry (sometimes more crying than laughing) but the true genius of Elliot's work is the fact he can tell an intriguing story that contains a bounty of emotions all over the emotional spectrum--all told within a style of animation usually reserved for the funny. (However, if you want to see another story driven claymation adventure, I highly suggest you check out Moral Orel--although started as a comedy, the story became quite serious and heavy and, in doing so, became something amazing in its final season) Like all of Elliot's films, Mary and Max is one to be seen and enjoyed for years to come and a fantastic outing for Elliot's first journey into feature length filmmaking. I look forward to another feature length from this truly creative man!