ANIMATION; 1hr 32min
VOICES BY: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman; narrated by Barry Humphries
Imperfect match: Max and Mary
In any but the surreal claymated universe of writer-director Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet ), eight-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle (voiced by Bethany Whitmore as a child; Collette as a woman) and 44-year-old Max Jerry Horowitz (Hoffman, gruffing it up) would never have crossed paths. Mary lives with her sherry-swilling mother (Renée Geyer) and her factory-worker father in Melbourne’s deeply suburban Mount Waverley; Max is a New Yorker with Asperger syndrome and an eating disorder — chocolate hotdogs are a fave. They are continents apart but united by a shared loneliness that finds its voice in the decades of letters they exchange after Mary writes to Max at random, seeking to know where babies come from.
Narrated with a cheeky twinkle by Humphries, Elliot’s uncanny flight of fancy covers the rocky ground of isolation, alcoholism and mental illness with distinctively lumpen grace. To wink at the world while embracing its unloveliest misfits takes a rare, skew-whiff empathy. Mary and Max is a chocolate hotdog for grown-ups with a taste for the startling and the bittersweet.