A killer indie sountrack, amazing cast and based on one of the most widely known children’s books of all time– it had potential. But, the giddy feeling that I felt after watching its trailer was not the same upon leaving the theatre after seeing Spike Jonze’s adaptation of ‘Where the Wild Things Are.’
The film, based on Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s book of the same name, tells the tale of a young creative boy name Max who is brilliantly played by newcomer, Max Records. After getting in trouble with his mother, Max imagines he travels to a far away land to be with the Wild Thing and becomes their king.
It has always surprised me that many people thought the book as scary or violent. I never thought of the book this way. Growing up, my mom used to read the book to me as a bedtime story and would give the Wild Things funny voices, so she is partially to blame for my different take on the book. But, the dark themes that people have talked about since the book was published showed in the film.
The character of Max is much like the creatures he meets. He is lonely, deprived of attention and just simply wants a friend. When Max’s sister’s friends destroy his igloo she does nothing about it he is devastated. So he goes to her room and wreaks havoc, in the process destroying a popsicle stick craft he made for her.
Records’ portrayal of an upset child is stellar and evoked emotions in me that I rarely experience when watching films. As an older sister who has seen that tear stained face on my younger brother, the film made me feel tremendously guilty.
While the darker emotions that Max felt seemed to be more apparent in the film, I felt that the Wild Things were still my crazy friends from the book. The Wild Things really came to life in part due to their stellar costumes built by Jim Heneson’s company-the man behind the Muppets. My favorite performances were by Paul Dano as the lonesome ‘Alexander’ and Catherine O’Hara as the Debbie downer, ‘Judith.’
I can’t say that I disliked the film, but I didn’t love it like I thought I would. The more I think about it the more the film grows on me, but I remember how I entered the film with the mindset of a innocent five year old, yet I left as a 19 year old well reminded of those strong emotions that even children can experience and it prevents me from really appreciating Jonze’s adaptation.