Bethany Whitmore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette
Max: When I was young, I invented an invisible friend called Mr. Ravioli. My psychiatrist says I don’t need him anymore…so, he just sits in the corner and reads.
A lonely little girl in Australia starts up a pen-pal friendship with a lonely, Asperger’s Syndrome suffering man in New York which lasts for many years.
Don’t let the fact that this is a claymation movie fool you, it’s not exactly for kids. There’s a lot of dark stuff going on here, including several deaths, alcoholism, and a near suicide. It makes for much more serious fare than a similarly animated movie like Chicken Run, but it’s so dark at times that some of the sweetness and humor gets overshadowed.
There are funny bits, and the end is very touching, but getting there was sort of a battle for me. It’s all just SO dismal that I got a little worn down by it.
Still, I have to respect the artistry of it. Mary (voiced by both Whitmore and Collette) lives in a world that made up mostly of shades of brown, whereas Max (Hoffman) exists in a very gray New York. When Mary sends Max an object, it always brings that warmer brown shade into Max’s cold existence. While all these uses of color are interesting, it certainly didn’t help alleviate the dismal tone.
The voice work is good too, especially by Hoffman. I didn’t recognize his voice, even though I knew it was him talking.
So yeah, animation is good, voice work is good, tone is dismal to the point of exhaustion. I liked it to an extent, but I can’t imagine I’ll be watching this one again any time soon.
You never know where you might find a friend.
10 – 3 because it’s just so exhaustively dismal – 1 for actually having a fairly standard/predictable story + .1 for the touching ending = 6.1