Where the Wild Things Are (High)


The magic of a book, any book, is that it gives your imagination the wiggle room to fill in details. When I read "Where the Wild Things Are' as a child, I found---in that imaginary space---so much whimsy and even happiness conveyed by the words and imagery. According to the book, there was normalcy in the escape of a child lightly punished, and the timeless, expansive quality of the boy's imagination was contagious, lighthearted.

It was mystically fun.

Fast forward years, countless human resources and millions of dollars later to a costume party with a bunch of doped up monsters (red eyes and all) who find a neglected, anxious boy the perfect candidate for their presidential seat.

I get it, it's not a white picket-fence world anymore. But the emotional baggage that this boy advertises through the long pans on his (unsettling) face and the brown, drab hues of their house just depresses to a gratuitous degree.

I guess a lot of movies fail to live up to a book because there is no way for a director/screenwriter/actor to take the place of the range of imaginations that play with the suggestions on the page.

Some do succeed, and so we see ourselves trooping to the theatre with proverbial dice in our hands. "Maybe this time, they'll capture the essence of the book," we say.

First of all Jonze directed 'Being John Malkovich,' so he had a lot of credit in this critic's bank. But there was so much about this movie that disappointed. Here are a few of my reasons (lots of my friends like this movie so I know these are mine alone):

  • One word speed explanation: Campy (note capital C)
  • The kid is running around through most of the movie and the scenery is so repetitive--was yawning like crazy and almost left at one point
  • You're not quite sure if the gigantic animals are going to eat him or not (no spoilers here but they just might, you'll just have to wait and see!).
  • The extreme doped-up quality of the animals--greasy locks, red eyes, complacent talk--fine if you want to role one, but this didn't fit in here at all and rammed heavily against what the animals were like in the book.
  • The end is sad in a contrived way that made my tear ducts go "hmm, what should we do here?" ... and that, my friends, is really rare. No, I didn't cry except when I left to think that I spent money on that movie.