Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are: A Positive Yet Dark Review

I saw Where The Wild Things Are today; the film based on the classic children's book that so shaped those of us who are Gen-X into the monsters we are today.

As I remember, Where the Wild Things Are was about an unruly child named Max who gets sent to his room for being a little monster. Usually, this was where we were as children reading this book and usually the reason behind why we were there, only to us, our rooms were not dungeons we were sent to when we were bad; they were the kingdoms that our inner beasts could roam free; where we won wars, overthrew dictatorships, conquered distant planets, and ruled the monsters.

If you are anything like me and have fond memories of reading this book as a child, put them away before seeing this movie. If you want to take your child to see the movie version of a book you loved growing up- don't. This movie is dark, heavy, slow, and rather hard to sit through to be perfectly honest. It seemed to be more about childhood's end to me over the magical adventure I remember of my youth, but it has been a long time and I may misremember the book.

One aspect of the book no person can ever forget is the one part the makers of this movie got beyond right: the Wild Things. My inner child was reborn the first time I saw Max in his wolf suit and the first silhouette of the first Wild Thing you see gave me chills. From Max's crown and scepter to the pupils of the Wild Things eyes, every detail from the book was there and it was just magical to see them moving and, once you get used to the voices, talking. To be fair, the only problem with the voices was that, in my head as a child, they always sounding like monsters where here they sounded...well, normal.

It is not an easy movie to watch. When it ended, I was fairly sure I didn't like it that much. I said something like "it had everything, but a script" to the people I was with. As the day wore on, it festered in my head and made connections I missed watching it. Slowly, the plot seeped into my mind and I realized exactly what I had seen: an adult looking back on a childhood memory. I think that is what Spike Jonze was going for when he made this and he nailed it. This is not a child's movie based on a child's book, but rather an adult's movie based on a child's book.

POTENTIAL SPOILER- A vital aspect of the book seems to be missing from the movie. I don't do spoilers, but I will say I was troubled to see Max run away to where the Wild Things were instead of getting to see his room transform as it did in the book. I feel that, much as the change in I Am Legend rendered that title pointless, so too does having the story not take place in Max's bedroom defeat the purpose of Where the Wild Things Are.


I rate it 9 out of 10. I never do this for reviews, but this was kind of a dark review and it may seem like I didn't like it. I loved it, but it is not a movie that is easy to explain.


VE said...

Interesting. I didn't read the spoiler because I haven't seen it yet. I can remember movies I didn't like at first and they grew important over time and other movies that I misinterpreted or something the first time around (I didn't like Gladiator the first time but its one of my favorites now). Good review.

Samantha K said...

it's interesting how polarizing this movie is, some people say WTWTA is the best movie of the year while others say it's the worst; i tend to lean toward the latter opinion just because it didn't really have a plot