Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

I saw Where the Wild Things Are last night and enjoyed it a great deal. At first I thought it was taking a long time for Max to get to the good part, as we went through Max's family problems, which are that his sister and mom have their own lives in addition to their one with him, and sometimes they just want to play kissy-face with their boyfriend, so when he gets rejected, he lashes out and runs away. You know where.

But I should have trusted Jonze, for all this turned out to be time well spent as King Max has to navigate the personal politics of his wild subjects.

It is an adult film in the sense that it deals with issues in ways that little kids won't understand, but they don't understand most of the movies their parents take them to. But there is nothing in here that should scare or traumatize a normal little kid, and while dealt with in adult ways, the issues are kid issues: how do you fit into your family, and how do you act when things go crappy for you? There is a lot of fighting and knocking of holes in trees, but the wild things and Max are laughing as they jump on top of each other. The sadness comes mostly during slow scenes. The movie has a nice blend of wild rumpus and sit and chat, though that may say more about me than the movie, as I understand some others have said the monsters sit around and talk too much. I didn't think so.

Nor will I have any truck with a reviewer who claims any of this is not true to the spirit of the book. It exactly is. Yes, they added a sister and her friends, and they added mom's singleness and boyfriend, and they added all those scenes at the beginning where Max felt neglected, but all these pulled out the theme of the book and showed it to us. They did use the best line in the book, "Let the wild rumpus begin!" and the one about "I love you; I'll eat you up."

I also like the decisions to give the wild things real voices and personalities, rather than just having them run around and grunt, and to alter Max's wolf costume so he can use his fingers. It all made the movie better.

The technology was as good as I'd hoped. Jim Henson's creature workshop created heads that showed emotion.

All in all I enjoyed it very much.

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