Friday, April 2, 2010

Where The Wild Things Are

Last night I saw the film, "Where The Wild Things Are." This Post is a review of that movie.

Now, before I go any further I have a confession to make. I have absolutely no childhood memory of reading the classic story "Where the Wild Things are." In fact I wasn't even sure if my family owned it until I asked my mom recently.
While some of you may believe that I was deprived of a very special childhood memory, I believe this gives me a distinct advantage.
After all, I come to the table unbiased by fond memories. Actually, I come to the table with no memories whatsoever.


I had been interested to see this film because of the buzz it was getting from Relevant Magazine, of which I am an ardent fan (and subscriber). If you don't know who they are, Google 'em.

I also knew that the sound track for the film was laden with indie artists, a fact which excited me.
Turns out, I was somewhat mistaken on that point, the soundtrack featured only ONE Indie super-group. Heading up the project was Karen O from the ever popular Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Members from the bands, Liars, Raconteurs and children were also involved. However the 'children' were actually prepubescent humans with great vocals, not a popular indie group.

So, on to the movie.

Plot: (No, I don't know how it differs from the book, because I've never read it.)

The story is all about a kid named Max (Played by a kid named Max Records ironically). Two things stood out to me about Max almost instantly. A) Max has a huge imagination (didn't see that coming). B) Max is a violent little fella. Seriously though, this movie opens with a harmless snow ball fight but Max treats the situation with like he's in basic training.
Violence is limited overall, but I did find it a bit surprising. Perhaps the weirdest moment is when Carol (a 'wild thing') rips the arm from one of the other creatures. A little sand pours out. Very odd.

Even though it's a children story this is clearly geared more toward adults. Not because of the objectionable content, but because of the subtle metaphors.
The story is really about Max coming to terms with the change in his life. Namely his mom's relationship with a new guy. We're not told why Max's dad is out of the picture, just that he isn't there.
Max copes by connecting with a delightful cast of monsters who inhabit the realm of his imagination.
Each monster is symbolic of either himself or someone he knows. Carol, played by James Gandolfini of the Sopranos, is most like Max, particularly when it comes to anger.

Several of Carol's outbursts mirror those of Max. Particularly one incident, where Max lashes out at his mother.

Each character has a distinct personality. Think about the seven dwarfs from Snow White, without the height problem.
Max tries to make a perfect fantasy world to live in. But right from the start, there is conflict.

The boy has to come to grips with the fact that the world isn't perfect, and there isn't much he can do about it. A beautiful lesson to learn.

I loved how random and joyful the island was. Though I never imagined myself hanging out with the Muppets on steroids, the movie did remind me of my own childhood fantasies. Boyhood dreams remembered and the hours I spent in the woods every day, dreaming up new worlds where I to could fight battles with evil and good always came out on top.

It's that last bit which gives me a reason to pause. Something about this movie seemed off, as if the conflict was never resolved. You know those thunderclouds which come through occasionally but don't leave any rain? That's how this movie felt. Perhaps you saw a bit of lightening and it got colder, the wind began to blow. Then just when it looks as if the flood gates are about to be flung wide open, the cloud passes over you.

There is a lack of conflict resolution.

When I would play as a kid, everything came right in the end. The bad guys met their end at the point of my sword and all the good guys lived, because that's how a good story ends.

Life, presents a different picture. Reality doesn't always give us conflict resolution, and this is exactly the truth Max has to grapple with.
As he put it, we're “just normal.” Such people can't make the world a perfect place. There's a lot of growing up in that realization, for Max and the rest of us 'normal people.'

So, did I like the movie? It was ok, interesting, but just ok. Call me a sucker for fairytale endings if you will (which isn't the case I can assure you) but that's how I feel.

I'd say its worth renting, but I personally wouldn't buy this one.



P.S. I need to play Simon Cowell here for a second.
The woman who plays Max's mom, (Catherine Keener) did a pretty good job in this film. I say that because I saw her performance in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” recently and thought it was absolutely appalling. So, good job!


  1. I actually thought it was interesting as well. My sister hated it because of the bizarre violence and lack of a resolution, but I found it very interesting. I have a tendency to analyze most movies I watch, so watching a movie that was pretty much a creative (not to mention ambitious and insanely risky of the makers) display of introspection was kind of enjoyable to me. But Max eating cake at the end killed me. Even though there wasn't an explicit resolution, you can see how Max is changing inside and I would have been semi-satisfied with the ending if it hadn't been for the cake. I was honestly hoping he would have to eat frozen corn :) lol. Great review!

  2. Haha, thanks. I didn't even consider the corn as the food of choice for the closing scene (although it would have made sense). I tend to really enjoy introspectiveness films, and that aspect was enjoyable to me. The creative element was great to.

  3. Great review! I really like your style. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I plan to eventually. Good things to keep in mind.

    By the way, I'm sorry I haven't said anything about your blog on Carpe Diem yet. When I said I would, you didn't have the Follower gadget up yet and I forgot how to find it. I didn't want to ask again. I was really glad when you commented and I could get back to your blog, lol! Expect a little recognition soon :)


  4. Thanks, I appreciate it.

    Don't worry about the free advertising. I wondered what had happened, but I wasn't upset. it's not your fault anyway. In future though, feel free to ask haha. ( :