Here we have a pretty touching tale, based on a true story, where two unlikely people become pen pals. Two people becoming pen pals isn't exactly unheard of, but there's something a little more taboo about this pair because one is an 8-year-old girl and the other is a 44-year-old man. It may sound creepy, but stick around for the rest of this review and ask yourself in the end whether it's creepy or sweet.
We open up in the early 70s as we're introduced to a little girl named Mary Daisy Dinkle (Bethany Whitmore/Toni Collette). She lives a lonely life, is constantly teased at school for a poop-like birthmark, and her parents consist of a distant father and an alcoholic, kleptomaniac mother. Her best refuge is to watch a show called the Noblets (basically the 'Smurfs', but very phallic-looking) while hanging out with her pet rooster, and eating sweetened, condensed milk straight from the can. She ends up being a very unusual character, but one feels for her because she's that unusual. She never really tries to fit in, she's just herself, and she manages to test the viewers opinions by making her seemingly as bland as possible.
If you can stick with it after a very strange intro, you'll see Mary, randomly mailing a guy named Max (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who resides in New York City, asking where babies come from. Max, himself, turns out to be a lonely and misunderstood individual as well. He doesn't particularly like or understand the human race, enjoys eating chocolate hot dogs (literally a chocolate bar in a hot dog bun), and deals with a truckload of anxiety issues. The film then gives us their back and forth, and we see just how much a lonely middle-aged man can understand the troubles of a lonely little girl. They pretty much become best friends through being pen pals, and the story challenges society's norms by giving us an otherwise creepy scenario between two very misunderstood people.
This is one of those movies you might only find somewhere online through that grey area of streaming or torrenting. I think it may still be available on American Netflix, but otherwise, it can be tricky to come across. But if you can find it, it's a film I'd recommend to almost anyone. If nothing else, it's just to see how very strange and funny, yet heart-felt and emotional it is. With narration like that of a children's story, there's still swearing, suggestive themes, and yes, even a tiny bit of nudity, so it's certainly not for kids. But what I could call it is a sort kid's-like film for adults. Again, the whole opening sequence pretty much tells you what you're in for.
The film is largely about being different, dealing with it, and being thankful to have someone in your corner through your tough times. There's some kinda heartbreaking moments throughout this as well, when we see them get into a bit of a fight and crippling loneliness and anxiety take things over for Max. Indeed, it's hard to deal with such an issue in your life. But the film also manages to show us that with time, unexpected things can happen. To me, it's very sweet, although quite dark, and it dares to go places other films don't quite manage. It's unlike a lot of animated films out there, and it's always been a personal favorite to refer to on those rough days when I'm feeling different, alone, or upset. An oddity of a film that's right up my alley.