Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are - A Review

Last weekend I went to go to see the movie Where the Wild Things Are, based on a children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are written by Maurice Sendak. We arrived at the theater and there were a few little kids there with parents. I thought how great it was that these little kids would get to start out with a movie of the awesome story that was read to me while I was a little kid! But that’s not exactly how it worked out. The Director Spike Jonze definetly takes his viewers on a ride, far away from the children’s book where the little boy is sent to bed without his supper; the movie is without the light and airy feeling as the carefree child in the book, it’s a much darker story with a much darker psychological and real storyline maybe for a much darker generation, (it really should have been rated PG13).

The story begins with a young boy, Max, played by Max Records, who gets upset and tears apart his sisters room after she goes out after a snowball fight with her and her friends. We learn that things aren’t going to so well for his family, his sister is ignoring him, his mother is working all the time and has a new boyfriend, his dad moved out and his parents are getting a divorce. Max isn’t taking things so well and when he gets angry, like he wants to run around and scare people, he puts on his animal outfit and talks to his teddy bear stuffed animals. One night he goes downstairs and sees his mother kissing her boyfriend, they get into an argument, he bites her (yes bites her), and runs away. He runs to a waters edge and finds a little boat, takes the boat and sails away where he runs into an island where he finds “the wild things” aka a group of oversized teddy bears, and surprise, they’re just like the ones from his room. Only these bears have personalities, and surprise again, they are just like his families personalities. There is Carol, who is very angry and destroying houses and yelling a lot, Judith who has new friends and who doesn’t hang out with Carol anymore, which makes him even more mad, and then there’s his mother who he eventually sides with against Carol when after a certain point, Carol’s anger gets out of control. On the island he convinces the others that he is a lost king from another place, and they start treating him nicely. They play together, they sleep in a “pile” as the movie calls it, where everyone is cuddled together (something that we see is missing in his real life).
Max realizes different lessons like how to make peace with his darker angrier self and how to love that self, that roughhousing or being mean can really hurt people when you’re not paying attention to them, that his sister does love him and wants to protect him from Carol, and that Carol’s anger comes from not being able to have his “perfect” life. Max tries to build Carol’s “perfect” life for him with cool tepee homes and waterways, but things don’t get as perfectly as planned when Carol realizes Max can’t bring Judith back from her friends and Carol, in a tantrum, chases Max and, well its implied, to kill him. I don’t think that’s good PG material! The one little girl in front of us got scared at that point and they left. Max realizes that being king and in charge isn’t all its cracked up to be. With the hard adult decisions he must make to keep all the characters on the island happy, he sees how it must be difficult for his mother to keep the family happy. He also is able to see the sadness Carol brings to the girl when he’s mean to her and that sometimes people are just better apart, (aka his parents might just be better off apart). The one happy part of the movie is when Max goes back home, (he miraculously finds his way on the boat from the far off island to home...which lends to the idea that the island wasn't even real, and if it wasn't real, where was Max during the time when he was "on the island"??) and he finds his mom who has been worrying for him. She smiles, they sit together at the table while he eats a bowl of soup, she falls asleep and he is content finally in their little "pile". While the film doesn't seem to reach the same audience as the book, the set design was beautiful and magical looking and the costumes of the huge teddy bears, even though obviously fake, enhanced the weird and offbeat psychological place inside of Max's world.
The movie was a bit too deep and dark for young kids and leaves even some adults unable to relate. Martin wanted to leave halfway through the movie but I made him stay because I just thought it was interesting to watch, and well I wanted to review for you! Watching the Max battle out his demons reminded me of what it was like to grow up with divorced parents and I’m sure would be great for an adult who had gone through divorce, parents who are going through divorce and who have children, and any teen going through the anger and resentment that comes along with a family going through a breakup like that. Hope you liked the review!! I gave the movie 3 stars out of 5.

Where the Wild Things Are is currently playing in theatres.


  1. We chose not to see this one over the weekend. I was afraid it might be a little too scary for my youngest.

  2. okay- I didn't read your whole review becuase I was afraid it was going to tell me the whole story - and I want to be partly surprised! But I'm glad to see you mostly liked it with 3 out of 5...I'll probably give it a try! Or maybe netflix it when it goes to dvd!

  3. I want to see this movie so badly! Last weekend we instead chose The Invention of Lying! I hated it - it's so stupid!

  4. I skipped your post because I don't want to know anything about the movie. The BF and I were wondering how they could make a movie out of such a short book. With your 3 out 5 review and how I think I spotted you saying it was dark for kids, I'll wait to rent it. Especially after what it cost me to see Astro Boy.

  5. I don't think I ever even read the book. If I did, I don't remember. I just know the first time I saw the trailer for the movie was the first I'd even heard of it.

  6. Popped in from SITS to say hi! What a great review. I was curious about this movie, and thanks to your review, I'm glad I didn't take my husband! WTWTW was his fav book as a child and this may have ruined it for him.


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