• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

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Mary And Max

TITLE: Mary And Max

YEAR: 2009

GENRE: Animation and Drama

One of my very favorite animation film series would be that of Great Britain’s Wallace and Gromit created by Nick Park. I have raved over the full-length feature Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit in the past, but the British twosome started in four amazing short films averaging about 30 minutes each. These have been mostly enjoyed by film buffs and animation hipsters for almost a decade although the average Pixar and Dreamworks fan knows little of their existence. Another film maker that honed his skills in stop-motion animation in short films and later developed full-length productions would be Australian Adam Elliott. His first full-length production was Mary And Max, a wonderful adult drama that drips with sincerity, humor, and a decidedly dark undertone.

Mary Dinkle (voiced by Toni Collette) is a homely, poor, and lonely Australian eight-year-old girl with an alcoholic mother and distant father who craves any type of positive attention. On a whim, she opens up a phone book at the library for New York City and decides to randomly write a person in hopes of developing a pen pal. She writes a basic letter about herself and mails it to the address with a chocolate bar. The recipient is Max Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a forty-four year old Jewish atheist who is grossly obese and suffers from panic attacks due to his Asperger Syndrome. The twosome become unlikely friends and share a mostly uninterrupted correspondence that lasts over twenty years. Their unique friendship helps Mary survive the horrors of her adolescence and subsequent heartbreaking marriage as well as helps Max learn to cope with the world around him including finding his definition of a dream job.

The stop-motion animation is not the best but definitely distinctive, so fans who want a symposium of how to present this art form should stick with Coraline and the Wallace and Gromit shorts. What makes Mary And Max so special is the wonderful storyline and the bumps in the road that the two main characters have to endure in the game called life. Their correspondence does cover some decidedly adult themes such as sex, kleptomania, bullying, and mental illness so this film is not for the kiddies. Some of the scenes are adult in nature especially when Mary considers ending her life as a teenager which could be some of the darkest moments in animation history. That does not mean that everything here is doom and gloom as there are some genuinely funny moments such as Max’s attempts to explain to a young Mary where babies come from, plus the scene where Max’s air conditioner falls out of the wall and splatters a mime who uses a small umbrella to protect himself is downright hilarious. In addition, some of the fact that each character share in their letters is charming and comical; make sure to find the unique fact that Max shares about turtles. The ending is bittersweet and will cause some viewers to bawl like a baby while others will be deeply touched. Mary And Max works very well and pulls on the heart strings of the viewer unlike very few animated films and should be applauded for such.

Mary And Max premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and won the best animated film award at the prestigious Asian Pacific Screen Awards as well. Fans who love animated films that desire a more adult approach to their movies will find Mary And Max an irresistible tale of two lonely societal castoffs who find acceptance through their mailbox. Mary And Max is a worthwhile way to spend a couple hours and is a hidden gem of a production.

* * * * 1/2



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