Mary & Max

139621-b-mary-and-maxI’ve always loved cartoons and animation. For me, there’s something about animation that helps keep me feeling young. I still watch “The Simpsons”, “Futurama”, and “South Park” reruns like it’s the thing to do and I love it. In fact, I still need to watch cartoons to help me fall asleep most nights. But as always, I digress.

The funny thing about animation (at least to me) is that I always find myself a bit surprised when an animated film or program addresses a serious (or real-life) issue. Now if you’re storytelling geniuses like Pixar, and you’re over the age of 21, you’d probably be able to tell that a movie like “Toy Story” tackles issues much bigger than whether or not Andy will play with his toys. But never before have I seen an animated movie that deals with real-world issues in such a humorous way and yet at the same time talk about real-world tragedies and how the characters overcome them (even though sometimes, it’s not always the best way.)

I first saw “Mary & Max” suggested to me on my Netflix account a few weeks ago but thought nothing of it. Then I saw it mentioned in an article last week titled “The Best Movies on Netflix You Haven’t Seen Yet” or something like that.  And on Friday night, I decided to give it a chance.Beginning in the 1970s, “Mary and Max” is the story about two very different people living half a world apart. The movie opens (and carries on) with a very soft-spoken narrator (Barry Humphries) whom introduces the audience to Mary along with her neglectful and disinterested parents. This immediately reminded me of the opening scene of “Amelie.” Mary is an 8 year old girl from Australia. She is very self-conscious about a birth mark on her forehead and has no friends. Max is an obese 44 year-old man from New York City who invented chocolate hotdogs.

Max at his typewriterOne day, Mary looks through the phone book and picks a name at random. The name she chose is Max Jerry Horovitz. She decides to write him a very polite letter introducing herself, talking about her favorite TV show, asking if babies come from the bottom of cola cans (because in Australia they’re found at the bottom of beer glasses,) and if she could be his friend. After much, MUCH hesitation, Max responds. Over the next twenty-two years, the two develop a very unique and special bond. The characters are so complex and layered, but I don’t want to give it away.

The characters are designed in a hilariously brilliant way, the soundtrack is nothing short of astonishing, the voice-over talents of Toni Collette as Mary and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Max are extremely convincing and dynamic. This movie, (as I mentioned) is already available for stream on Netflix as well as Amazon and iTunes. The more I think about it, the more I think I need to re-think my “Top 10 Movies Of All Time” post that I put up a few months back. THIS MOVIE IS THAT GOOD!  #181 of the Top 250 films on IMDB, and winner of several international film festivals written and directed by Oscar-Winning Australian writer/director Adam Elliot,”Max and Mary” is a wonderful story told in the dying art form known as stop-motion animation.

There is a wonderfully interactive website dedicated to the film where you can watch Behind The Scenes clips, international trailers and more at maryandmax.com. I encourage you to check it out.

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