Where the Wild Things Are: Movie Review

Husband and I went to see Where The Wild Things Are last night. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last year, you must know that this movie exists. I’m not a special fan of director Spike Jonez’ films. I liked Being John Malkovich but I didn’t see the film just because of him. I’m familiar with Wild Things co-writer David Eggers’. I’ve read some of Eggers’ work and I find it disconnecting; my reluctance to read or recommend his work is probably why I’ve never been published in McSweeney’s. However his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius seems to have informed the movie greatly. In Heartbreaking Work, Eggers describes raising his younger brother after the death of their parents. Talk about wild things…two males alone in a house.  The themes of growing up and the loneliness that accompanies it color both the book and Where the Wild Things Are.

I’ll say off the bat the movie isn’t for kids. Well, maybe it’s just not for all kids. If you’re looking for a strict interpretation of the book, you won’t find it here.  I did notice, however, that of many children between the ages of about four and eleven, only a few were fidgety or not paying attention. One woman took a trio of misbehavers out of the theater about halfway through. The rest seemed at least engaged in the film. I don’t have kids, but I think if your kid is particularly thinky or mature, he or she may get more out of the movie than just the activity of the costumed characters. On the other hand, one of the beauties of the film are the costumed wild things. I’m so glad to see a movement away from total reliance on CGI. The wild things’ faces were apparently animated but the bodies are so wonderfully real. It’s a wonderful film just to see.

It’s not a very “happy” movie. Max is a wild little kid – one of the reasons Husband cited for not caring for the movie is that he didn’t like Max. It’s true – Max is a brat. But I think that’s a hard age for kids who aren’t little kids anymore but not teenagers. (I hate the word ‘tween’.) I read once that middle school is actually more emotionally out of control than the teenaged years – your hormones are beginning to assert themselves and whatnot. I believe it. And I think Max represents that stage of life very well, that messy period of learning to control yourself emotionally and physically.

I, and my generation, grew up on Sendak’s books, and I think this is a movie for us, for people who have a special attachment to that book and maybe sort of remember what it meant to really believe you could sail away into a world of your own but still come back to your own little bed at the end of the adventure.

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