Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max is an animated movie by Adam Elliot, starring the voices of Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries and Eric Bana. I saw it during the Anilogue Festival in Vienna.

Eight-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore/Toni Collette) is a slightly strange and lonely child living in Melbourne with an alcoholic mother. One day, she tears a page from a New York phone book and writes at random to Max Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Max turns out to be a fourty-four-year-old autistic who, after overcoming a panic attack triggered by the letter, answers Mary. A lifelong exchange of letters and friendship follows.

I can not tell you how perfectly wonderful this film is. It is funny, charming, sweet and incredibly well written, has great performances and is beautifully narrated by Barry Humphries. On top of that it looks amazing. Get your hands on a copy now.

I don’t even know where to start my gushing.

Adam Elliot is super amazingly talented. The animation, the design of the characters, the colours (or lack thereof), the directing was great, but it’s the writing that was actually awe-inspiring. Beautiful, sweet, with a nice sense of humour and a wonderful, wonderful way to play with the language.

Max:  I have also invented some new words. “Confuzzled”, which is being confused and puzzled at the same time, “snirt”, which is a cross between snow and dirt, and “smushables”, which are squashed groceries you find at the bottom of the bag. I have sent a letter to the Oxford Dictionary people asking them to include my words but I have not heard back.

Given that strong starting point it was essential that he got the right people to do the voice acting – and he definitely did. Both Bethany Whitmore and Toni Collette made for a strong Mary and Philip Seymour Hoffman was wonderful, as usual. Eric Bana was really good as well. But it was Barry Humphries who was the scene stealer (does he do audio books? Are they interesting? Ah, screw interesting, I’d listen to them anyway).

Max: Unfortunately, in America, babies are not found in cola cans. I asked my mother when I was four and she said they came from eggs laid by rabbis. If you aren’t Jewish, they’re laid by Catholic nuns. If you’re an atheist, they’re laid by dirty, lonely prostitutes.

What else could I say that wouldn’t be repeating all the same adjectives over and over again? I think there’s nothing else to add. Just go and watch it. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Max: When I was young, I invented an invisible friend called Mr Ravioli. My psychiatrist says I don’t need him anymore so he just sits in the corner and reads.

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