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Mary and Max Review


At A Glance...

Genre: , , ,
Age Rating:
Actor: , , , ,
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: January 2009
Story Line: Mary and Max is a story about people from different worlds that find a friendship through their pen pal relationship to overcome their loneliness.
Final Score
5/ 5

User Rating
1 total rating


We liked?

Gorgeous animation style
Terrifically vivid characters

Not so much?

Intended for mature audiences

Final Fiendish Findings?

This is a terrifically done animated film with a wonderfully unique story and characters.

Posted October 19, 2012 by

Full Fiendish Findings?

Mary Daisy Dinkle is a chubby, lonely, underprivileged child growing up in Melbourne, Australia. In an attempt to reach out and connect with anyone, Mary randomly picks Max Horowitz’s name out of a New York City phone book at a post office. Max is an obese, middle aged Jew turned atheist recluse with Asperger’s Syndrome. Max’s days are filled with anxiety and confusion since he admittedly has issues relating to most people, and the world around him in general.

Both literally and figuratively in many respects, these characters are worlds apart. They live continents apart, have decades that separate them and have very different ambitions in life. Despite that, they find a lot of solace in their pen pal relationship due to the many things they do have in common – like their mutual loneliness, love for peculiar foods, and their favorite show, The Noblets. Their letters consist of asking questions to get to know each other better, general life subjects they don’t feel they can ask others, or any other subject that pops into their head at the time they write the letter. Often times, they send gifts and food bits over the long trip through the postal service. The letters feel like an unending stream of non sequiturs but help build the characters, since both have very little interaction with people in their own world.

Max is voiced by the versatile actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Philip brings Max a tremendous amount of character and depth, and really makes him a memorable character. There aren’t a lot of actors that can really bring life to animated characters but Philip does an amazing job at bringing Max a unique realism.

Mary is voiced in her younger years by Bethany Whitmore, a young actress who I admittedly don’t know much about beyond this movie, but she does a real good job of bringing expression and liveliness to the young Mary. As Mary gets older, she is then voiced by the terrific Toni Collette. Mary is a much more emotional person than Max, whom is pretty limited due to his anxiety. Toni does a great job of making her into a character whose emotions run the gamut.

The two worlds are tied together by narrator Barry Humphries. Since this movie spends so much time in either Mary’s or Max’s world, the narrator is a good touch to keep things moving and works as the verbal glue between those two worlds. Also, since the characters do spend much of their time alone, there aren’t a lot of others to interact with. I think the addition of the narrator allows for more dialog to be entered, which could have come across as overly contrived if it was put on the characters themselves to verbalize.

Mary and Max is a visually drab movie. The palette is dominated with a lot of greys and browns. The subdued tones really emphasize the serious subject matter that runs throughout the movie. Child neglect, mental illness, depression, alcoholism, loneliness, bullying and suicide are all a part of their lives throughout the movie. Most of these dark subjects are attempted at being defused with Adam Elliot’s odd sense of humor to lessen the blow. The mix of dark, emotional subjects with amusing dialog is almost Coen-esque. To counter the dull tones, there are bright splashes of red displayed throughout the movie. I’m not sure what the reason was to have the stark contrast of only certain items or why red was the only color chosen to be given emphasis but it helps attract your attention to things like the gifts Mary and Max share with each other.

Even though Adam Elliot does not have a large library of works, he has several short films that he has created, all of which I have enjoyed. I’m hoping his success with this film will give him the means to grace the film world with more great works. Claymation is a painstakingly slow medium, and few filmmakers are using it any more. I’m happy to see that the ones that are, are doing such a fabulous job like Elliot.

Mary and Max is not your typical film, but I wholeheartedly recommend seeing it. This critically acclaimed film is filled with a believable and lovable quirkiness that makes it a joy to watch, even through its dark moments and tones.


I've been a game enthusiast since my 2600 enjoying RPG, platformer and adventure games. Also a film buff who enjoys quirky, indie films and a huge Hitchcock fan.


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