Where the Wild Things Are
By Sam, age 19, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Where the Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze, is a film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's story. The movie follows Max (played by Max Records), a creative, rambunctious child. After having a heated argument with his mother, Max runs away from home, finds a sailboat, and travels across the ocean, only to land on a mysterious island inhabited by "wild things." Max, using his clever wit, finds a way to proclaim himself King of the Wild Things and makes plans to build a perfect life on the island with his new friends. But these Wild Things are dangerous creatures. And Max soon finds it's hard being King, especially if his subjects are unhappy enough to want to eat him.
Where the Wild Things Are is a landmark film, if only for the fact that it not your average kiddy flick. In fact, it's not much of a children's movie at all. Wild Things is much more like an artistic independent film rather than a blockbuster children's movie. I would relate it to a lighter, humorous version of Pan's Labyrinth. It's the story of a young child in turmoil over the things he cannot control in reality, escaping into an imaginative world in order to find freedom.
The story of Where the Wild Things Are is complex in the way it's ambiguous. Jonze (who also co-wrote the screenplay) directs the movie in such a way that he shows the audience what occurs between Max and the Wild Things, but he doesn't always fill in the gaps the "showing" creates. As a result, the significance in the characters' motivations or actions is not always clear. This is what I meant by Wild Things being an artistic film - not all of what the movie implies is directly answered. Such indirectness can be discouraging for some audience members, but I found it to be a refreshing way of storytelling. What story there is, is completely character driven. Max, Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini), KW (voiced by Lauren Ambrose), Alexander (voiced by Paul Dano), and each of the other Wild Things have their own strengths and flaws. Powerful character flaws. This makes each one of them unique and fascinating to watch.
The visual effects and music in Where the Wild Things Are are also amazing. I don't know what kind of movie magic they pulled off to create the Wild Things, but they look absolutely fantastic, as if they were just as real as the boy in the wolf suit they were talking to. The music, composed by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is a fantastic mix of screaming, humming, raging guitar jams, and sensitive melodies.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I laughed, cried, and at one point I was so terrified I forgot Wild Things was supposed to be a movie for children. This movie is not a direct adaptation of Maurice Sendak's book, so hardcore fans may be a little upset over the direction Jonze went with it. I, for one, thought this movie was a unique way of telling the story while remaining genuine to the book's overall idea.
I give Where the Wild Things Are 3.7 out of 5 stars.