Adults have it pretty easy. We get to make a lot of our own choices. We’ve learned (for the most part) how to deal with peer pressure with grace, how to handle confrontation with poise. We made it through puberty mostly unscathed, rarely get pimples, and have discovered creative ways to deal with facial hair. Sometimes, though, being an adult seems like very serious business. So it’s nice when scriptwriters remember to include us when they’re writing the latest Pixar flick, or when directors decide that claymation is a better medium than live action film. This month, Rave Reviews delights in adult-minded animation by reviewing Up and Mary and Max.
I watched Mary and Max at the Calgary International Film Festival back in September. The film is a full-length stop-motion feature that opened the Sundance Film Festival back in January. Since its debut it has been a festival favourite, winning awards and honourable mentions and pleasing festival-goers the world over. The film follows the story of Mary, a young Australian girl who sends a random letter to Max, a middle-aged, severely obese New Yorker with Asperger’s syndrome. The two unlikely pen pals correspond for decades and support each other through their many life challenges. The film is not a feel-good, self-help romp though. Dark and twisty are the adjectives du jour, with little sprinkles of sweetness to keep the story from getting too heavy. With frank, witty dialogue and great voice contributions from Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary and Max is proof that claymation can be for grown-ups, too. Mary and Max is due for release early in 2010, so add it to your list of New Year must-sees.
If you’re one of the handful of people who didn’t watch Up when it was in theatres, you’ll be pleased to know that the DVD has arrived in video stores and is ready to whisk you away on a whirlwind adventure complete with humour the whole family will love. Up is already garnering Oscar buzz as the industry’s top pick for animated feature and it’s easy to see why. The animation is flawless, the story is poignant but not sappy, and with Ed Asner providing the voice for the crotchety Carl Frederickson, you’ve got the makings of a classic. Pixar is a hit-producing machine—there isn’t a single lemon in their repertoire, and Up further proves that this production company knows what audiences want. With the holidays right around the corner, Up would be a great gift for anybody on your list, whether it’s your eight-year-old niece or your 80-year-old grandmother.
Now that the season is in full swing, even grown-ups get to play on powder days. But if you’re stuck inside, or if you don’t get your fill of laughs, be sure to grab Up at your local video store. It will warm your heart even on the coldest winter day.