But this is not where the film starts. It begins first across the globe in Australia, where Mary is living a depressed life of "The Noblets" (a cartoon TV show that Max also finds solace within), condensed milk, and being bullied. This section I thought had weird, detached sexual connotations, with visual gags involving dogs and her father's odd job of attaching the strings to teabags ("he could get all of the teabags he wanted" was a particularly off-putting line). Well, she decides to send a letter to an American to see how babies are born there, since in Australia she is sure that they are wrenched out of beer glasses. Speaking of alcohol, Mary's mother Vera is consumed by alcoholism and makes great use of sherry. During a post office visit between the two of them, she finds Max in an American phonebook, and thus the link is forged. This is one that will span a great portion of their lives, and predictably drifts at times into sentimentality.
These letters do, however, inspire some great responses, and copious amounts of chocolate, in different forms. As time passes, things get more ridiculous, opportunities are wasted, and there are strains in the relationship. I will not reveal any more plot details, but I will say some of what happens is tremendously depressing, as Mary encounters a masochistic stem and takes on traits that run in the family. The ending itself impairs the film as it slams you into a brick wall, shortly after which the film takes flight. In this, and in some of the weightless plot details, the film loses its real ability to stay in your mind. With this film, you're eating more of a candy bar than a gourmet chocolate. But, of course, there is still value in that. To use another confectionary metaphor, "Mary and Max" is the bar that's below your vision at the candy selection where you checkout (I learned about this whole system by talking with someone who read Steve Almond's "Candyfreak"). If you miss it, it wouldn't be too much of a big deal, but if you happen upon it, you may like its interesting taste. B-