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Nov 12, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Depending on who you listen to, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is either 338 or 339 words long. Considering the brevity of his genius, combined with the fact that I suck and it's been weeks since I saw the film and have yet to write anything about it, I've decided to go into Schtick Mode and give you a review that matches the number of words in his book. Starting....now:

What kind of person decides to adapt a 10-sentence book that takes 90 seconds to read and turn it into a 90 minute movie? Would you call that person ambitious? Insane? Brilliant? Idiotic?

Of course, we already knew that director Spike Jonze was a visionary - an auteur, a hyphenate, a creative genius. All by itself, the look of Wild cements that status. Jonze expands upon the bedroom jungle of Sendak's vision and turns it into an alternate world for Max and the Wild Things full of every type of tropical location you can think of, and architectural creations that could only come from the mind of a child (it should be noted that the only other director that might've matched or exceeded Jonze at filming this book would be Michel Gondry, a man-child if ever there were one).

The thing that's more surprising (and/or vexing to many) is how adult this child's book has become. The context and message was always there, but this film has been injected with more psychoanalysis than The Sopranos, all in the guise of 12-foot monsters. Max doesn't go on his mind's journey merely to escape the pain and loneliness of being a child, but to work out his demons. He puts himself in the shoes of his mother, teaching himself what it's like to be a parent and learning that there's no such place as Utopia - no place where there is no pain, but that pain can be a means of growth and bonding.

While there are those that think that element is what ruins Wild, I'm one of the ones that think the maturity of the subject matter, combined with the exuberant playtime feel, timeless look and diverse characters, are what will eventually count Jonze's work as not just another book-to-film adaptation, but a classic in its own right.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, that's about all I have to say about that. But since I have a few words remaining, I would like to say this: James Gandolfini really

Sorry - that's 338.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"It's in the hole!"
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

3 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Where the Wild Things Are"

Film Gurl said...

I've heard some negative comments about this movie being misleading in the trailer. I guess a lot of parents took their kids to see the film and thought it would be more of a "feel good" type family movie. Instead, I heard it was more of an "adult" type movie rather than a movie for kids, which got many parents upset. Despite the negativity, this is still a film on my "to watch" list. Nice review!

Daniel Getahun said...

I'll help you finish.

"James Gandolfini really" sounded way too much like James Gandolfini, enough so that I was actually taken out of it a few times. Same goes for Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker. But those were my own problems.

I found this movie visually amazing but emotionally dull. I didn't connect with Max and I was hoping for a lot more fun and a lot less furrowing and fuming. Maybe he just played the maturity hand a little too heavily for me. Didn't ruin it, but didn't make it for me, either.

Fletch said...

FG - Thanks! I'd say that Wild Things isn't meant for kids younger than 9 or so. Coupla scary-ish scenes.

Daniel - funny you should mention Forrest. I hadn't paid attention really to who was in the vocal cast and wasn't aware it was him until after the movie was over. I picked up on all the rest, but wasn't bothered by any of them. If anything, I was pleased with what each brought to it, especially Cooper, more or less playing against type (and being pretty funny, too).

I agree that it could have been a tad lighter and more fun, but it had enough whimsy to suffice for me.