some people like movies

reviews and reactions to the wonderful world of film

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

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It’s movies like this that remind me how great it is sometimes to be stuck and secluded on a tropical island.  I talked with several people who disliked Where the Wild Things Are because of all the “hipster-hype” – skinny-jeaned, indie music-lovin’ people obsessing over a film that they could “identify” with.  (Frankly, I’m a nerdy, indie-music lovin’, skinny jeaned person myself but seeing as, again, I’m one in a million on this island with such characteristics, that has nothing to do with it).  All that to say, I’m really gonna miss watching a popular movie without that added over-eager endorsement from peers at school or work.  The luxury of being able to objectively watch something will be sorely missed.

The movie is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Caldecott Award-winning children’s book of the same name about a boy named Max who is sent to his room without supper, travels to “where the wild things are” through his imagination and becomes their king. I grew up on this story and have always loved the illustrations and creativity.

As far as the film goes… my objectivity served me well – I loved it.  In many ways I hardly know why I loved it.  Spike Jonze’s creation is nothing like I was expecting but I was fascinated with what I saw nonetheless.  I felt real child-like emotion and true earnestness.  What truly amazed me was the spontaneity protrayed through the creatures and Max.  They yell and fight and play and cry and are happy, then sad and don’t want to share and throw tantrums – all in five minutes.  Is that not like every child between the ages of 6 and 10?  The extremes may seem exaggerated but in all honesty its exaggeration was nothing but realistic.  The monsters were surprisingly complex (“Will you keep out the sadness?”) and had an honest feel to them.  I love the fresh feel of the Jim Henson-style puppet creations (Labyrinth!), rather than the usual overdose of CGI junk.

Many spoke of the feeling of hopelessness and sadness.  I agree to an extent though this didn’t bother me until several hours later.  While watching the movie I was nothing but entranced, fascinated, emotionally invested, and in awe of the visually stunning creation I was viewing.  The music also added immensely to the tone, and brought life to the story – plus I’m a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s fan.

If I could change one thing, I would change the ending.  In the book, Max returns from his adventure to find his supper waiting for him, as though everything were better.  The film ends differently, and I find it a shame.  I think that ending it the same way the book did would eliminate any remaining feeling of depression.  My opinion.

I should also credit Max Records.  He was excellent and terribly imaginative, as was the supporting cast (Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, and even Mark Ruffalo).  But this review has gone on long enough, however, the best part about this WHOLE ordeal is the trailer.  The Arcade Fire music rocks.  So, here’s the trailer in case you missed it:

In the words of KW “I could eat it up, I love it so.” 8/10

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