If you’ve never done drugs and for some reason you have the natural instinct to be curious about what all of the hubbub is aboot, save your time, effort, and inevitable physical breakdown and just see Where the Wild Things Are. Typically, in a review for a children’s film, you wouldn’t see the phrase “fucking brilliant,” but there is really no other appropriate way to describe it. The film is about as much of a “kids’ flick” as Who Framed Roger Rabbit or The Dark Crystal–and is undoubtedly made more for adults who read the book as children, than specifically for kids.
So What’s the Big Deal? When Maurice Sendak wrote Where the Wild Things Are, it was met with shitty reviews and–even worse–it was banned from some school libraries. After a few years in the public eye, schools and libraries found that Where the Wild Things Are was one of the most popular books among children. Then, it began to win awards–such is life.
The book itself isn’t that great. It was one of my favorites as a kid, but there was very little to it. Maurice Sendak always had a creepy, psychotic, and anarchistic element to his stories and poems, which I enjoyed a lot…but Where the Wild Things Are might have been his weakest.
That being said, the book had a certain quality to it that made it seem more awesome that it actually was. It gave you a sense of escapism and freedom that was never really structured or explained.
The Story? The story given to us by Sendak is that of little Max–a hyperactive kid in a wolf costume–who tells his mother that he’s going to “eat her up.” She sends him to his room without supper and he imagines himself escaping to a land of giant monsters. The monsters make Max their king and celebrate him as a bringer of happiness. Max gets lonely and goes home where there is a bowl of soup waiting for him.
The book never really says that Max imagined this, but to an adult, it’s implied. The movie goes way farther into personal issues, emotions, and the mentality of a young child. I won’t say anything else about the film’s plot, except that it tells the same story as the book, in a more magnificent light.
Should I See It? If you’re a progressive parent with a fairly open mind, you’ll be better for it if you take your kids to see this; but be forewarned that you’ll probably be up all night reflecting on the film while your kid sleeps peacefully, dreaming of this fantastic adventure. Adults will no-doubt see more in this film than children, which should imply that it’s a good movie.
But what sets Where the Wild Things Are apart from other “kidult” movies is its complexity. There is so much emotion packed into this movie that, if you don’t cry, you’ll be holding it back for 2 hours.
The movie has no shame about pretending to be a kids’ flick. It embraces it, from the playful opening credits to the whimsical music by Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)–which plays perfectly almost as a supporting cast member.
Max Record, who plays MAX, is perfectly reflected by the James Gandolfini Wild Thing, CAROL. Gandolfini has finally found a role where his overly aggressive tranquilized bear nose-breathing actually fits the character he’s playing.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a slight bias in favor of R-rated movies. Ever since I was old enough to watch them, I felt that PG and PG-13-rated movies were holding something back to appeal to an audience they didn’t really need.
Where the Wild Things Are holds nothing back. Its writers Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers set out to prove that although we’ve all grown up, the child inside is still very much alive.
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