Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Review: Where the Wild Things Are (movie)

I showed "Where the Wild Things Are" during the last day or two of school, when all exams and such were completed and we were just kind of running out the clock. The students chose that movie nearly unanimously, and - just as unanimously - hated the movie within 15 minutes. We all know and love the beautiful children's work by Maurice Sendak, and this is not that.

"Where the Wild Things Are" is NOT a children's movie. This is not for children in any way, shape, or form. It is an exploration of the various parts of a child's ego, needs, desires, and immaturity, and children under the age of - say - 25 or 30 aren't going to get this movie very well. There's no definable plot or conflict except that of a child attempting to exert his will on the world and failing.

Instead, this is a slow-moving, introspective exploration of the immaturity of a child, set in a fantastical world of his own creation. There's no redemption here, there's no real growth, and there's no accomplishment or resolution in this story, because in real life, kids don't get resolution, or accomplishment, or redemption, with most experiences. I don't like to think that this is the way the world works, but this is the story presented by direction Jonze.

If you get this movie for your kids, you're going to be very, very disappointed. This isn't the charming, heartwarming feature that you'd hope from such a beautifully done piece of literature. Instead, this is a very adult exploration of what it's like to be a child. Max's behavior - and monster Carol's behavior - is infuriating, perplexing, and frustrating throughout most of the movie, and the behavior doesn't improve at the end. This is a good movie, but not necessarily one that I'd watch again. It's kind of disturbing, as I recognize myself in much of Max's behavior, even as an adult; and I'd hope that I'd outgrow it.

...which is, I suppose, the point. 7 out of 10 as an adult movie, 1 out of 10 as a children's movie.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Agree - 100%...Kids hated it and I cursed myself for PPV-ing it on a rainy afternoon for them. At least they still love the book, which we had, looong before there was a movie!