Where the Wild Things Are is a rather odd movie. It’s based off the classic children’s picture book by Maurice Sendak (which my mom read to me growing up), but the tone of the entire film has a distinctly adult sensibility. Except for a few scenes, I can’t really see a kid enjoying it, since even my VC couldn’t hang with it and disliked the dysfunctional family and out-of-control kid (whose behavior probably stems from too little parenting). The film is often boring and wordy and is honestly pretty depressing, what with all the talk about the sun dying and the messed-up relationships that aren’t really resolved.
From this film and what I’ve heard of his others, I would say that director Spike Jonze tends to take seemingly outlandish plotlines and turn them into artistic films that can be taken seriously. He certainly has done just that in Where the Wild Things Are, which may not be meant for young kids but at least avoids the adult content of his other films, like Being John Malkovich and the recent Her.
The appeal of this movie is in its depth and insight into Max’s psyche, which is broken down and given life in the form of the Wild Things he meets. Ira represents his desire to be appreciated; pessimistic Judith is his angry insistence to be taken on his own terms, accepting only love and understanding as an answer; Alexander is his fear of him being ignored and his pain not understood; and Carol is his jealous selfishness and his ferocious temper. Seeing the Wild Things’ relationships break down and particularly Carol’s going “out of control” (as Max did in the beginning) is like Max looking in a mirror and resolving to change. His goodbyes and departure from the Wild Things were actually surprisingly touching.
Unfortunately, Max’s “change” only goes so far. In the final moments with his mom, I kept expecting him to say “I’m sorry,” but those magic words are left unsaid, with only knowing and sympathetic looks to take their place. However, the CGI-enhanced puppets from the Jim Henson Creature Shop are some of the most life-like puppets I’ve ever seen, making the film notable for its visual effects as well. All in all, it’s a well-made but divisive film that is worthy of a much more detailed analysis than I’ve given and one that will only appeal to those who “get” its underlying message.
Best line: (Douglas, when his arm is pulled off during Carol’s vicious tantrum) “That was my favorite arm!”Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 3 Visual Effects: 8 Originality: 5 Watchability: 3 Other (slow parts): -2 TOTAL: 30 out of 60
Tomorrow: #311: The Sword in the Stone
© 2014 S. G. Liput