Where The Wild Things Are
When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite books. Later on in life, I wanted to become a children’t book writer and illustrator, a career that perhaps still will happen someday. This movie has reminded me about not only my childhood love of this book, but also about once meeting Maurice Sendak and those desires to write and illustrate.
I went to see this film with some trepidation as I was unsure just how a children’s book like this could be turned into a live action movie and still capture the imagination. I have to say that I left the theater with a mix of emotions that bordered on sheer love for this film and a great nostalgia for the book at the same time. The thing of it is, they are very much divergent in many ways from one another.
First off though, I cannot say enough about the imagery of this film. The wild things are huge puppets with digitized facial expressions that are flawless. The rough coast of Australia that this was filmed at is breathtaking and the set design and CG work on the “fort” and houses is fantastic. Even the wardrobe design, especially in Max’s wolf suit was very well done indeed.
The story I think, is much more nuanced than the original book in that there is much more that needs to be filled out in a movie that perhaps was conveyed in a shorter fashion in the book. However, this too can be accounted for as Spike Jonez’ take on the book transitioning to a movie. I for one liked the backstory with the expansions of characters to have more dimension in the film.
The voice talent also was well chosen and the choice for Carrol (James Gandolfini) was inspired I think. He loses much of the Soprano twang to the diction, but still, you can hear in your minds eye the menace of Carrol as Tony. Which brings me to the scare factor.
There are dark and scary moments in this film that I think much of today’s children’s films, and books, have lost in these days of infantalizing our youth. I went to a 7pm show and there were many small kids in the audience, and though there were some taught scary moments, none cried out…
Maurice said it all recently at an interview about the film when asked about the scare factor;
“Let them wet their pants”
I guess I just can’t say enough about this re-invention of “Where The Wild Things Are” but I will leave you with this…
The final scene with Max and his mother is one of the most poignant pieces of film I have seen in some time… And one with no dialog to boot.
Now that is film making and acting…
See this film.