Director: Adam Elliot (2009)
Starring: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries
Find it: IMDB
Mary and Max is billed in some circles as a comedy. Well I don't know about that. Mary and Max is a very funny film, but I was too busy being in floods of tears to notice any of the jokes. Mary and Max is a heartbreaking piece of animation; as much so as Jurassic Bark. And we all know how I feel about Jurassic Bark.
This is how I feel about Jurassic Bark.
Cute little Australian girl Mary Dinkle (Colette) strikes up a pen friendship with fat, old New Yorker Max Horowitz (Hoffman) whilst Barry Humphries cheerfully narrates. Dame Edna Everage never has been nor ever will be funny, but Humphries is perfect for Mary and Max. His narration is upbeat and uplifting even as some of the most depressing events you've ever seen unfold on the screen before you. He's like an Australian Morgan Freeman. Max writes back to Mary and their strange friendship blossoms. They bond over social awkwardness and exclusion; Mary is shy, bullied and mocked at school; Max has Asperger's syndrome and finds life difficult, loud and confusing.
The story takes place over a matter of years, through Mary's childhood up to her marriage (to Eric Bana) and the birth of a child. Max wins the lottery and gets fat on chocolate. Their friendship is anything but constant; repeatedly broken up through a series of misunderstandings, accidents and Max's stay in a mental institution. All of it is impossibly depressing and beautiful at the same time.
The claymation animation is great, reminiscent of a more purposefully ugly Wallace and Gromit. It's backed up with great voice acting and a lovely soundtrack. The jokes, unfortunately, are lost beneath the increasing darkness of the story. It reaches some very grim places.
Mary and Max left me emotionally devastated, like Requiem For A Dream crossed with Up. I can watch something like Million Dollar Baby and not bat an eyelid. Put it in the form of an animation, and I'll be in tears within minutes. Not only was I in tears within minutes of Mary and Max beginning, I was in tears for the full 92 minutes.