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Mary and Max

4.5 out of 5 stars 293 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From Academy Award® winning writer/director Adam Elliot and producer Melanie Coombs (HARVEY KRUMPET) comes the hilarious and moving new claymated feature film about the pen-pal relationship between two very different people: Mary Daisy Dinkle (voiced by Oscar® nominee Toni Collette) is a lonely 8-year-old in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Max Jerry Horovitz (Oscar® winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is an obese 44-year-old with Asperger s Syndrome living in the chaos of New York City. Over the course of 20 years and 2 continents, their unusual journey of friendship will explore autism, taxidermy, alcoholism, where babies come from, kleptomania, sexual differences, trust, copulating dogs, religious differences, agoraphobia and more of life s big and little surprises.


Mary and Max, a Claymation film by Academy Award-winning animator Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet), has just enough quirky oddity to distinguish it from Elliot's fiercest Claymation competitor, Aardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit). Mary and Max tells the story of a 20-year pen pal friendship between an 8-year-old Australian goth girl, Mary Daisy Dinkle (Toni Collette), and 44-year-old New Yorker Max Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The film's humor throughout is rooted in a general malaise that afflicts both characters. Mary, who has an alcoholic mother, a dull father who works in a matchstick factory, and a grandfather who committed suicide by drinking ammonia, is quite fed up with her ensuing adolescence. Fortunately, she reaches to the right person, an agoraphobic man with Asperger's syndrome who wants friends but has no clue how to acquire them. As the story progresses, years lapse and the two learn to rely on each other in more intimate ways until conflicts arise that add tension to an already-packed narrative. The animation style, done mostly in a gray to black palette with an overall droopy look, enhances the melancholic feeling that exudes from this intriguing story. Funny details, too, make it suitable for kids, such as Max's never-ending passion for chocolate hot dogs. While the letters are shared with the viewer, read aloud by either Mary or Max, one discovers universal anxieties and how they can be remedied through friendship. When Mary asks, "Have you ever been teased?" Max has pages to draft on this topic. Mary and Max is a uniquely bittersweet film starring two clay-sculpted outcasts that leaves one hoping for a sequel. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Toni Collette, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries, Eric Bana
  • Directors: Adam Elliot
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 15, 2010
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00366E1E6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,873 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
Mary and Max is an independent claymation flick from Australia, with a darkly comic theme about a lonely and misunderstood 8-year-old girl who strikes up an unlikely and disturbing correspondence and friendship with a 48-year-old overweight depressive male diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. While that sounds unlikely enough as a topic for an animated film, what was truly unexpected was the moving power of its simple message, achieved without resorting to sentimentalism or cliche.

The film, apparently based on a true story, plays like Wallace and Gromit conceived by Oliver Sacks and imagined by David Lynch and Robert Crumb. The animated characters, who tend to be overweight with exaggerated melancholy expressions, are nevertheless enormously expressive - and the film seamlessly shifts from the muted colors of the rundown Australian suburb where Mary lives to the expressive black and white of Max's New York City.

Mary (Toni Collette) is a curious and lonely girl, whose father is unavailable and whose mother is an alcoholic kleptomaniac and whose neighbors are each in their own way inscrutable. Confronted by questions the adults around her are unwilling to answer, she selects Max's name at random from an American phonebook and writes an inquisitive letter to a complete stranger. Initially thrown for a loop by this unexpected query, Max detects a kindred spirit and responds to her letter with complete sincerity. So begins a peculiar correspondence, fraught throughout with misunderstanding but culminating in a lifelong friendship that is able to carry them both through a great deal of personal misfortune and tragedy.

The voice of Phillip Seymour Hoffman invests the character of Max with a deeply sincere confusion about the peculiar games that people play.
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Format: DVD
One thing animation does very well is give us great art. But what it rarely does is actually create realistic human characters with all their inconvenient imperfections. This movie does both...and I consider "Mary and Max" one of the most daring films of 2009.

Those familiar with the animator - Adam Elliot - may recall he won an Oscar for "Harvie Krumpet" in the category of
short animated films. This film is his major oevre, an expanded version of the shorter film, albeit with different characters.

Ostensibly, the story is about a friendship between two unlikely partners. Max is an overweight, depressed, New York Jew suffering from serious mental illness. Mary is 8 years old, chubby, and confused. Both are lonely and underappreciated...and through the chance occurrence of a letter from Mary to Max, they develop a deep and real
friendship as pen pals.

Now, in many respects, both characters are very flawed human beings. And that is what makes the film remarkable. So many animated films from Finding Nemo to Beauty and the Beast end with a successful quest of the hero and heroine. This storyline is far more subtle. Both Mary and Max battle the everyday troubles of modern life - finding a way to fit in a world when they don't fit in at all. Searching for an influence on this movie in the history of cinema, I might select the Oscar best picture "Marty" which filmed a love affair between two ordinary people in the 1950's.

I cannot finish the review without saying something about the extraordinary recreation of New York City in ClayMation. I rather liked the fact the film uses claymation for the characters because it renders them far more "earthy" than the bright, digital CGI formula so popular today.

This is a film with dark moments and tender moments and annoying moments...in sum a film about life as it is really lived.
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Format: Blu-ray
From Academy Award-winning Australian director Adam Elliot, maker of the wonderfully weird and demented Harvie Krumpet (Best Animated Short, 2004 -- you can see it on YouTube), comes another equally weird and demented new animation called "Mary and Max". His work is not very well known in the US, but it's fantastic and should be more widely seen by fans of animation and dark, morbid humor.

It is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between a chubby, homely, and socially maladjusted 8 year old girl in Melbourne, Australia named Mary Daisy Dinkle and a severely overweight and neurotic middle-aged Russian-Jewish man in New York with Asperger syndrome, named Max Jerry Horowitz. Mary has no friends and is taken care of by her alcoholic and kleptomaniac mother. On a chance visit to the post office, she finds an American phonebook and decides to write to someone to ask where babies come from while her mother tries to steal boxes of envelopes. The name she randomly chose was Max's, whom she sends a letter and a candy bar. They share a love for chocolate, a Smurfs-like show called The Noblets, and a need for friendship. In each other, they find kindred spirits and what follows is two decades of humorous correspondence and weird gift exchanges.

Voiced by an almost unrecognizable Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he plays the part of Max perfectly. There are no words to convey the frequency and weirdness of the deadpan humor. You'll just have to watch it. Literally every minute or two is filled with some weird joke, dialog, or visual gag. Owing to Max's autism, there's a lot of random humor and non sequiturs.
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