Based on one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, Where the Wild Things Are is the story of a little boy who runs away from home and disappears into a fantasy world where these giant beasts make him their king. There with the use of his imagination he tries to build them a better life. Eventually through a series of successes and failures the boy must eventually go home.
For me the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are taught me about individuality, perseverance and the power of imagination. The book teaches you to howl and express your individuality. There has been a lot of English professors who have psycho-analyzed this book to death about the lead character, Max, being from a broken home and could be the victim of child abuse. So he disappears into a fantasy world to escape. But that is not the point! Sure yes it could be the primary reason for the story but I believe it is more than that.
The new movie based on that source material seems to want to take into consideration every single thing written, speculated, enhanced or developed about the book. It is so desperate to try and fill the movie with something more than what is in the 48-page book. There is a reason why we psycho-analyze a Hans Christen Andersen story to death but sometimes its best to just tell the story and leave it on its own merits. I know it has worked for Walt Disney for decades.
I have admired Spike Jonze and his clever and unrudimentary way of telling a story. In Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, he opened up a whole new way of telling a story. But with this film he seems lost, treading water and in over his head. He needed a more concrete vision and he never achieved it.
I loved the look of the film, how the Wild Things looked ripped right out of the book and the performance from young Max Records. I wasn’t impressed by the voice cast of James Gandolfini (Carl), Lauren Ambrose (KW), Chris Cooper (Doug) or even Forest Whitaker. I really thought they looked incredible I just dont think their voices enhanced the characters at all. Also were they a mixture of CGI faces with people in real mascot-type costumes? How did they make them?
But what the movie fails to understand is that there should be a sense of awe, inspiration, imagination and wonder. The Wild Things are also hardly scary in the book but funny, unpredictable and at times delightful. I never got that feeling once from any of them. I got a sense of friendship but the movie decided to play the dark, ugly card way to many times. And that is just it, this movie can be quite cold and unforgiving and that just pissed me off. The tone is way, way off! This isn’t a movie for kids but for students taking “children’s literature” in university. In some ways you could even say this is a giant bad student film.
2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer