Mary and Max is a 2009 Australian stop motion animated drama film written and directed by Adam Elliot and produced by Melanie Coombs. The voice cast includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tony Collette, Eric Bana, Bethany Whitmore, and some narration that's provide by Barry Humphries. The film follows both characters, Mary and Max. Mary is a small-girl that's lonely in her life. She doesn't have any friends and is made fun of because an unfortunate birthmark. Max, on the other-hand, is an older gentleman that suffers from mental and social problems. He's had trouble in life because of it. Both of them find themselves in a friendship exchanging letter, and their lives improve because of it. Like, for example, Mary's self-confidence begins to improve.
The film definitely has the tendency to be more depressing than it needs to be. I am not saying that I would have preferred a happy go-lucky film about characters that defeat all their troubles in life and all that, but it often feels like it's just one bad thing happening after the next, and it almost happens too fast to appreciate it all. I don't take it for granted. That's one of the things I have as a criticism, but thankfully, something nice about the film is that there is a warming quality to keep it from delving too far into the darkness of its narrative. That something is the characters. Bethany Whitmore and Phillip Seymour Hoffman both do excellently with their roles and are the glue that holds the whole film's narrative together. Mary and Max are funny. They are charming. And I left the movie with about a million-and-one different things to talk about once it was all said and done. They are enough to make me recommend this film with complete assurance.
The characters are everything I'd want in characters and even though they are estranged by feet and miles in the film, there's a bond that is established in the film. The humor of the film is particularly well-done and charming. This film isn't for children by any means, and some of the humor will demonstrate that, and if that doesn't do so, you can bet that the subject-matter will.
Some of the discussions between them occasionally stretch a little too long and they lose a little bit of their strength at times, but all of it's still very entertaining. And while I already mentioned that the story has the tendency to be a little on the mopey side, it also doesn't develop everything well, but I think it can be argued that most of it was developed as much as it needed to be for it to work. This makes it all come off as a little paper-thin though.
Let's talk about the stop-motion though, that's the best factor of it all, of course! As it's expected, it looks terrific and the scenery itself is detailed and well-established. They are everything you could ask for in a stop-motion film, and the musical score also adds a lot to the film as well.
Mary and Max may not be my favorite stop-motion film of all time, (that still belongs to A Nightmare Before Christmas) but it's enjoyable. The film's story might be a little simple and lacking in actual substance, but it's dreariness is still able to pull at the heart-strings some. The stop-motion is well-done, with a lot of variables adding to it. The characters, however, are what really let it shine. The voice-acting from Hoffman, in-particular, was excellent, but everyone contributes something. It's a good stop-motion film that will have you both depressed and in hysterics at the same time.