“So wake up sleepy ones…Its time to save your world..You’re Where the Wild Things Are, toy soldiers out to war!!”
Spike Jonze’s personal spin on the beloved 1963 children’s classic was definitely a trip, to say the least. It was an epic journey through a child’s fantasy world where all the problems of the real world seep through and you don’t know the limits of where his imagination ends and his “Wild Things” begin.
Max Records (Come on, parents!) plays Max, a boy who seems like an ADHD poster child with few friends and even fewer people around the house. He escapes into games by himself and bizarre arts and crafts. When having a bad evening with his mother, he bites her arm, and in tears runs away from home ashamed. In a small grove, he finds himself a small vessel and sails in and out of weeks and into a year, to a beautiful and magical land inhabited by massive creatures. After confronting a vast array of your favorite Wild Things from the book, Max basically captures their attention and allegience by the same means as the story. This is where the story leaves the road of the book and makes it’s own rules. The Jim Henson Co. made suits of the Wild Things are exquisate to behold. Massive foam rubber suits with seamless CG faces showing beautifully sad and expressive expressions.
I wise man once said, “I think this movie will be beautiful, but thats about it.” And that kinda WAS it. While Max is roaming the land with his emotional and insane posse of monsters, they break huge trees to cinders and get into extreme dirt clod fights, and build a massive fort. While the movie was inventive and epic for its short running time, it was like watching other people have fun through a window, at some point, you’d like to join the party. Each Wild Thing seems to represent Max’s different feelings and emotions, as well as all the little objects around his room were very prevalaint in the new world’s environment which in itself was very symbolic and cool. Trying to decipher what was what made the film feel cryptic in a sense as well as a bit aimless. I am reminded of the movie Labrynth, where everything in Sara’s room from stuffed animals to toys and ornaments were all creatures or artifacts of her dream world in the Labrynth, this was very similar in that aspect. What about the awesome Sea Dragon with the mullet that ambushes Max’s boat on his very first trip to the island? Why couldn’t that creature be a threat they needed to thwart? See? Bam! Just made up a great plotline instead of just a wild rumpous!
Where the Wild Things Are was a visually stunning, site seeing carnivale’, with some wonderful voice acting by James Gandolfini and Chris Cooper. It was also a great vehicle for new child star Max Recaords, who projects tears of sadness, psychosis, and compassion with the ability of an adult. In the end though, I feel like WTWTA was very much in love with being beautiful, and not as much about the evolving of Max himself.
A great new addition to film, and while not a children’s movie, Jonze turned about 2 paragraphs of literature into a full circle movie. A feat, just in itself, an astounding triumph in cinema. 3 out of 5