After reading many fantastic reviews of this film and the fact that Mary And Max still wasn't released in Britain despite it has been released for a year, I just couldn't resist watching it. What I got out of this was 90 minutes of raw emotion, dark comedy and mind-blowing animation. It is an extremely underrated film that should have been nominated for Best Animated Picture to be tough competition against Up but unfortunately another crucial mistake by the Academy.
I was actually really surprised at how emotional it really was. I almost creased in tears when the film ended which doesn't really happen to me but watching it was a massive inspiration to me seeing as I am a strong follower of autism and Asperger's Syndrome seeing as I have a few friends and relatives who suffer from it. The animation was just spectacular! It was quite similar to Henry Selick/Tim Burton-like stop-motion (Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, Corpse Bride merged with Aardman and Nick Park (Wallace And Gromit feature film and the 4 shorts, Chicken Run, Creature Comforts).
In the mid 1970's, a homely, friendless Australian girl of 8 picks a name out of a Manhattan phone book and writes to him; she includes a chocolate bar. She's Mary Dinkle, the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distracted father. He's Max Horowitz, living alone in New York, overweight, subject to anxiety attacks. He writes back, with chocolate. Thus begins a 20-year correspondence, interrupted by a stay in an asylum and a few misunderstandings. Mary falls in love with a neighbour, saves money to have a birthmark removed and deals with loss. Max has a friendship with a neighbour, tries to control his weight, and finally gets the dream job. Will the two ever meet face to face?
There was almost no involvement of the United States, United Kingdom or any other studio from another country. Plus, pretty much the entire cast are Australian (apart from Phillip Seymour Hoffman) so it was pretty much an all-Australian film. It was brilliant because all of the actors and creators within this film have merged together and created something that perhaps does challenge against other animation studios (even Pixar). Phillip Seymour Hoffman's voice acting as Max was pretty awesome. I felt the drama of the character really well and despite that it was mostly a narrated film, the characters were so strong it was just too good to be true. I think that the main message of the film is that you can find soul mates from all over the world and no matter how far one lives, that person can still change one's life around; whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.
The direction from Adam Elliot was incredible! I haven't seen very many Australian films but I have to admit that this is by far the best one I have seen from there. I would say that Mary And Max has some similarities with other animated films like A Scanner Darkly, Waltz with Bashir and Persepolis in terms of theme and image backgrounds but in terms of dialogue, message and characters, it is something totally different than any film that has been released. I was deeply admired how unique the clay-animated background New York City looked like especially the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center twin towers before their collapse. The script was just awesome! Mary And Max is, like most clay-animated films, a film that is actually out of somebody's (or a group of people's) head(s), not based on a novel and to write a script like that without the support of a book, I really admire.
Overall, Mary And Max is an absolutely outstanding film that I adored from the start to the end. I would say it is the most underrated film of all time and when it is released on blu-ray, I will be at the store to buy it within like an hour! It is the first film that I have seen that is about someone with Asperger's Syndrome so that's another reason why I absolutely love it so if you have a friend or relative who suffers from Autism or Asperger's Syndrome then you should check it out! Also, I must say that I think Nick Park reluctantly has an opponent who is good enough to challenge him. One of the best films of 2009 and maybe even one of the best animated films that I think I have watched in a very long time. The whole film in a nutshell: MASTERPIECE!