July 8, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Mary and Max

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Mary and Max

Today's movie: Mary and Max, 2009 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because I stumbled across it accidentally via Netflix's "New Releases" RSS feed, and thought it sounded interesting, a claymation feature concerning the decades-long pen-pal relationship between a lonely girl in Australia and a middle-aged Asperger's victim in New York, and featuring voiceovers by such respected indie veterans as Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Eric Bana.

The reality: Meh. The animation itself is pretty well-done, I have to admit, and there's a good reason that it's racked up a whole pile of industry and festival awards from around the world; too bad, then, that it's in service of an overly cutesy-wootsy, silly-willy, extremely slow-moving script, which takes roughly 20 minutes of interesting story and pads it out into an entire 90-minute feature. This is a common problem among animators, in fact, that in their singular obsession over the visuals of their project, too many choose what are sometimes just horrendous scripts to base these visuals around, or at the very least stories that go utterly nowhere and leave audiences tediously waiting for the end; and that's definitely the case here as well, a project that would've worked a lot better as a short instead of a full-length movie. Recommended to heavy fans of animation, but not really anyone else.

Strangest piece of trivia: The postage stamps used by the Australian girl feature an image of Dame Edna, played in real life by British comedian Barry Humphries, who is also the narrator of this film.

Worth your time? Only if you're an existing animation fan

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:11 AM, July 8, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |