Classic Review – Mary and Max (2009)


Title – Mary and Max (2009)

Director – Adam Elliot (feature debut)

Cast – (voices of) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, Eric Bana, Barry Humphries

Plot – The odd tale of outsider pen pal’s, Mary Dinkle (Collette) an 8 year old girl living in Melbourne Australia and Max Horovitz (Seymour Hoffman) a lonely middle-aged Jewish man living in New York City whose friendship with one another plays an important role in their lives and their goals.

“I cannot understand how being honest can be considered improper. Maybe this is why I don’t have any friends”

Review by Eddie on 29/07/2021

Following on from his Oscar triumph with his 2003 Animated Short Harvie Krumpet, Australian artist/filmmaker Adam Elliot gave the world his first and to this day only feature length effort Mary and Max, a unique locally made animated affair that has managed to remain one of the most beloved films of all time across the globe.

Sitting pretty in the IMDB’s Top 250 films list and in no danger of losing its spot anytime soon, Mary and Max is the little film that could as Elliot and his creative team bring the story of unfortunate young Melbourne girl Mary Dinkle and her pen pal friendship with lonely obese and neurotic New Yorker Max Horovitz to life, in what is a film that may be billed as an oddball comedy (of which it frequently is) but may also surprise viewers with its honest, depressing and unfortunately observant musings on what it means to be a human.

You can tell every aspect of Mary and Max’s painfully precise creation has been carefully considered and pondered by Elliot and co with every single scene of this 90 minute film choc (olate) full of Australian throwbacks, side gags and stories, making Mary and Max a feast for the eyes and senses as well as a curiously deep meditation on those lost souls in our world that often find themselves misunderstood and forgotten about.

In many ways nothing big happens in the story of Mary or the plight of Max but in so many ways there are big moments too as Elliot resists the urge too explore too many other characters or happenings and while there are lottery wins, unhealthy creations, blind neighbors and lots of unfortunate gold fishes at play, Elliot’s tale is at its best and at its most wholesome when we are focused on nothing more than Mary and Max’s strange but important friendship.

Guided at all times by Barry Humphries narrator who adds context and exposition to the plights of our central duo, Toni Collette’s Mary and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (in a role he recorded exclusively over Skype) Max may be humans with some serious cracks in their ways of life but they are wonderfully bought to fruition by Elliot and his two voice performers and they all work together with love and affection for their characters and craft and combine to give Mary and Max a sense of heart and purpose that is not only hard to find in animated films but in any films regardless of its type.

It’s disappointing that Elliot has yet to find himself behind the directors chair for another feature film in the many moons since Mary and Max’s release as on the back of Harvie Krumpet and this well-loved feature he had a chance to become one of our most well-regarded creators with hope that he will once more bring the odd and charming to life in another offering in the near future.

Final Say – 

A film unto its own, Mary and Max is one of the most well-respected Australian films of the modern era and for good reason as its loving staged examination of friendship and finding oneself in the world creates a film worthy of being discovered for years yet to come.

4 noblets out of 5  

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