The birds and the bees takes a perverse, but cynically humorous spin in this claymation feature film starring Bethany Whitmore, Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Eric Bana. Eight-year-old Mary Dinkle (Whitmore/Collette) is the outwardly bland, but lovable heroine with eyes "like muddy puddles" and a birthmark "the color of poo." Having been told that babies in Australia come from the bottom of beer glasses, she seeks answers from an American point-of-view by randomly writing to Max Horowitz (Hoffman), a forty-four-year-old, obese, atheistic Jewish man from New York City. At first, Mary's letter terrifies Max, a perpetual loner, whose only friend is the Italian book worm, Mr. Ravioli (a figment of his imagination). When Max summons up the courage to write back, however, he begins the first in a series of hilarious, but often touching, correspondences that continue for the next eighteen years.
In their colorful exchanges, Mary and Max bring an unforgettable host of secondary characters to the forefront. Vera Dinkle (Renee Geyer) is Mary's mother, a stay-at-home housewife who frequently "tests" the cooking sherry and "borrows" food from the local grocery mart. Her father, Noel Dinkle, works in a factory attaching straps to tea bags and has a hobby for taxidermy, which he fulfills by picking up dead birds from the freeway. In America, Max is accompanied by Ivy, his elderly neighbor who has "more wrinkles than an elephant's bottom," and Dr. Bernard Hazelhoff, Max's cynical psychiatrist who advises him to "eat nothing bigger than his head." Eric Bana voices Damien Popodopolous, Mary's neighbor and eventual love interest who smells "like lemon dishwashing liquid" and is usually seen watering his mother's roses.
The film's main source of humour is satire (subjects include social acceptance, obesity, and the American justice system among others). Viewers will find parodies of classic films, such as Pyscho and Breakfast at Tiffany's laugable, but not imposing. The film's only flaw is it's pace (slow, but subtle) and viewer's may find the ending a bit of a disappointment, but this is nevertheless a cleverly made and stirring tale of friendship and self-discovery.
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