Max Records & Catherine Keener in Where the Wild Things Are
Max Records & Catherine Keener
Truly, I am madly, deeply in love with the film version of "Where the Wild Things Are."
This time everything works, from tip to tail, from the moment in the prologue at which director Spike Jonze freezes the action (Max, fork in hand, tearing after the family dog) to the final scene's hard-won reconnection between Max and his mother at the kitchen table.
Not everyone will share my feelings.
I suspect kids will go for it more than their parents; in my experience, it's parents who tend to get fussed up about material they perceive, often wrongly, as "too dark" or difficult. There's a certain amount of pain in "Where the Wild Things Are," but it's completely earned. The movie fills you with all sorts of feelings, and I suspect children will recognize those feelings as their own.
A movie such as Disney / Pixar's
"Up" (which I also love -- what are the odds of getting two such gems, different as they are, in the same year?) ensures mass-audience appeal of a certain economic impact, by dint of its own canny approach to blockbuster machinery and some inspired reconfigurations of hardy formulas. "Where the Wild Things Are" is a different sort of great. It's take-it-or-leave-it great -- scruffier, lower-key. Despite reports of nervous studio meddling, it offers the same wealth of dream-catcher, off-kilter magic as did Jonze's earlier features, "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation." The film engages
On paper, the additions to Sendak's skeletal story don't sound so good.
Max, played with a fine mixture of petulance and vulnerability by the very aptly named
How did Jonze and fellow screenwriter
How did they manage to amplify such a simple story without falling into the expository traps sprung by the egregious live-action Dr. Seuss adaptations? Mainly, they have taste and wit and trust on their side. The movie understands Max and the complicated inner lives of all kids.
Shot in and near
The exuberant, childlike songs by Karen O of the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs fold neatly into
I suppose I wish Jonze had found a way to keep the bedroom-transformation conceit found in Sendak's original. His movie won't be everyone's ideal "Wild Things." Instead, it's something more valuable -- it's his and his alone. Hats off to
"Where the Wild Things Are" Movie Trailer
MPAA rating: PG (for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language).
Running time: 1:34.
Credits: Directed by Spike Jonze; written by Jonze and
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