24 January 2012

Movies: Mary and Max

Mary and Max (2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0978762/

Stop motion animated

An 8 year old girl in Australia, Mary Daisy Dinkle, picks a random name out of a New York City phonebook, Max Horowitz, and writes him a letter, launching a lifelong on-off-on-again pen pal relationship between the two.

Most of the film is narrated storybook-style with the characters filling in with their voices through their letters. It may seem to move slowly at first, but once I was used to the pace of the storytelling it wasn't so bad. I just had to get over that first hump.
Although this is stop-motion animated it's definitely targeted toward a more mature audience. Not so much that it's mature themed, it deals with emotionally mature topics. It isn't designed to be entertainment for children and chances are they'd find it slow and uneventful. No ponies or rainbows or unicorns or screaming mice or anything for them.
The animation is superb, and the story is so strong, so poignant. It deals with the hardships Mary has to live with growing up with her alcoholic mother, distracted father, getting picked on at school, trying to fit in, getting married, her career, etc. It also deals with the hardships Max deals with as he is overweight, is an adult with Asperger's Syndrome trying to make sense of the world around him, and the consequences of his actions and reactions that he has little control over.

A few of the better-known actors voicing characters are  Toni Collette as adult Mary, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Max, and Eric Bana,. Hoffman was amazing, he nailed that character, I couldn't even tell it was him. I thought that Bethany Whitmore, who voiced the child Mary, did a great job too. What's really nice about this voice work was the actors voiced the characters and fit the characters well, as opposed to making sure you recognized who the voice was behind 'em.

I really enjoyed this film, and realize it's probably not everyone's cup of tea.
The film is more an emotional ride, so if you choose to watch it don't do so on a night you're hankerin for some action or comedy.

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