Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are

Year: 2009
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker

In My Own Words

This is one of the movies that I was really looking forward to, but I came out of it feeling confused. I’m completely confused whether I should be liking it or not. However, one reason for liking it outweighs all the reasons I have for not liking it. I loved the feeling of seeing things through the eyes of a child again. It made me recall how I had been as a child. I was continuously making the most of my imagination by writing stories and, even though I looked extremely freaking doing so, acting them out in my lounge room by myself. I also would like to play in the garden outside and make little cardboard cut outs of people and pretend they lived in the garden. Very few adults still have an imagination like that. I doubt any grown ups really use their imagination like this anymore, and if they did, they would be considered crazy. That’s what makes the child’s imagination and their way of using it so special. You can only take advantage of it in that way for a certain amount of time. From that time on, the only way to use your imagination the way a child does is in story-telling and writing.

I never really thought about this that much until I saw this movie. I saw “Where The Wild Things Are” as being a metaphor for this. The tagline “There’s one in all of us” I believe is a representation of how the imagination of a child still exists in all of us, but we can’t express it the way a child can anymore. “Where The Wild Things Are” reminded me so much of my childhood imagination, and for that I am thankful. It brought back some memories of a time when I was oblivious to the real world and lived in my own world where everything was made by me, and therefore perfect. In this movie, all is not perfect for very long, which I interpreted as being the point where he grows up and accepts that things may not always be perfect in the real world, but there are always people who will love you no matter how imperfect you or your world may be. This was my interpretation anyway. Maybe I am reading too much into it.

There are my own words and here is my review.

Who would have ever thought that the 338 page book, “Where The Wild Things Are” could be made into a 101 minute film? Spike Jonze is the man to do it. Obviously, quite a bit is added into the film that is not in the book in order to make it appropriate for a feature length film. The long awaited film will be appreciated by adults as long as they go into the film ready to see the world through the imagination of a child. In saying this, children will see this film and enjoy it as it is imaginative and a story with big friendly (and other times not so friendly) and fluffy monsters.

Max (Max Records) is a young boy who is full of imagination. He spends his days creating new worlds for himself to escape the troubles he experiences with his older sister and her friends, and his single mother (Catherine Keener). One day after getting himself into trouble, he runs away from home and sails to a new land, which is inhabited by large and unusual creatures. Max tells the creatures that he is a king, and he immediately becomes the flavour of the month, especially with Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini). Max tries to make life happier for all the creatures, but ends up finding out that it is impossible to make everyone happy all the time.

“Where The Wild Things Are” is the story of a child’s imagination. The visuals of the land where the wild things live are perfect for this theme, as they are both imaginative, as they are abstract, unreal, large and full of detail. The visuals are unlike any other seen in a recent film and the recreation of Carol and his friends is fantastic. The cast that lends their voices to these wild things does a great job in bringing to life these characters from the book. The soundtrack is also commendable, as it reflects the childlike behaviour and emotions presented in the film.

However, the film can be dull at times. There are some scenes that seem slow and quite tedious, as it seems as though the film is not going anywhere. The conflict in the film is not strong, which is where the film loses its strength. The moral of the film and visuals are there, however at times they just do not seem to work. It is first and foremost a children’s book and ultimately is seen as a children’s movie, but this is no excuse for lack of strength in a movie. Records gives a good performance as Max, but he can come across as forced. His best performance is as happy Max, but sad Max is not convincing. Yet, he is a very young actor so he can be forgiven. Still, the film almost feels too basic, even for a children’s film.

The moral of the film is fantastic, that there is a world like the one in the movie inside all of us. Most people are not aware of this world or have forgotten it, as it is evident mainly in children but not in adults. Therefore, children will love this movie as it will tap into their imagination. For adults, it will only do this if they are aware of the morals and themes of the film and are willing to go into viewing it with the mind of a child. A child’s imagination is far greater than the average adult as it knows no limits, yet there does come a time in everyone’s life when reality becomes greater than the imagination and this is what “Where The Wild Things Are” presents.


  1. I liked how Jonze & Eggers expanded the original storybook.

    I was quite impressed with the angle they took to explain why Max is the way he is, but all the same I got a tad impatient with how moody the Wild Things were.

    Pretty good on the whole, but something I wish was a little better.

    Good review!

  2. Great movie, touched me in all the ways the book did when I was young. It takes you for an emotional ride, but at the end you feel as if you understand each of those emotions a little better than before.