Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

According to IMDB, Warner Bros. decided against marketing this film as a kid's movie and 70% of the marketing budget for it on broad-based and adult driven buys. That, however, didn't prevent a gaggle of kids from traipsing in or for "kid-based" trailers to proceed the showing. Based on the famous Maurice Sendak book, Spike Jonze's version is a melancholy musing of the imagination, exuberance, insecurities and uncertainties of childhood.

The film is gorgeously shot and the "wild things" are beautifully rendered through the work of Henson puppet creatures, CGI animation and formidable vocalization by James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper and Lauren Ambrose. My favorite was O'Hara as the dubious downer, Judith.

Of course, the film lives or dies on the performance of the main character: Max. And Max Records does a fine job as the irrepressible Max. Although Max is unsuccessful in keeping his word providing a Utopian existence for the wild things in his short tenure as king, his overstated promises demonstrate a possible career in politics. The film communicates the story mainly through exquisite visuals, but although Jonze and company do an amazing job of bringing Sendak's (and Max's) world to life, the film ultimately is lacking in emotional resonance.

The closest it comes is KW's (Ambrose) farewell to Max as he prepares to head back home, "I don't want you to go, I'll eat you up I love you so." Even Max's reunion with his mother (Catherine Keener) doesn't have the impact that it should have. All in all, a very good movie that just misses the mark of being a great one...

1 comment:

  1. I saw this movie with some trepidation because I know the story a bit. However I think that while the resolution isn't clear defined that Max has actually has evolved/matured, it was interesting to see parts of Max in all the characters that he finds in the island and that he recognizes that he can't make a perfect world-- and that it's so hard for children to realize that parents are people too with flaws who make mistakes but do (usually) do the best they can given the current circumstances.
    20-20 hindsight is hard to deal with. This somewhat sarcastic presentation of a cherished book isn't really for kids but should be on every parent's reading list to better understand the frustration of children-- since memories are often skewed--realizing that for kids, life isn't always clear a This
    I walked out of this dark and somewhat unresolved movie wondering if I had made the right choice of movie-- but I gained something from it. Jonze did a great job eliciting fab performances.. I loved all the characters-- except the wild thing that Max was initially and then the Max he became was just too pat an ending.
    great review.