Brace yourselves! I'm about to delve deep into myself in yet another one of my many attempts to show you that I have a soul! I know you don't want to believe it, but come on! Give credit where credit is due! I just got out of Where the Wild Things Are almost on the verge of tears. I didn't actually let a teardrop go, as I was with friends, and that would have looked weird. But, that still didn't stop me from feeling an overwhelming sense of wonder and emotion with Where the Wild Things Are. Indeed, this is easily one of the best movies of the year, and, as my friend so succinctly put it, the first book-to-movie adaptation that is actually better then the source material on which it is based!
If you have read Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, then you already have a general idea of what this movie is about. If you haven't read it, then close out of this page, turn off your computer and do so. For those of you who don't read, it boils down like this. There's a kid named Max, who is going through that phase of childhood, where everything he does is misunderstood, where the smallest things can lead to huge confrontations, and where the imagination is an untamed and wild beast! One night, Max is sent to bed without dinner. Instead of following his mother's orders, he runs away to the ocean. There he finds a small boat, which takes him to a far off island. Upon landing on the island, Max discovers that it is inhabited by giant "wild things", who, upon close inspection, are not that different from himself. He makes his presence known and is soon crowned the king of the wild things. As he befriends and plays with the creatures, he let's his own fantasies play out like he never could back home! The book Where the Wild Things Are was only made up of ten sentences. Co-writer/director Spike Jonze was faced with the, almost, impossible challenge of adapting the book into a feature length movie. Boy, did he live up to the task! To say that Where the Wild Things Are stays true to the spirit of the book is a gross understatement. It is such a beautiful story that is so masterfully written... I can't think of anything to say that will do it justice!
Max Records plays Max (go figure). This performance will probably go down in the annals of exquisite performances by a child actor. Records so brilliantly captures the juvenile spirit that made Max such and interesting character in the book, and does a great job translating it to the screen. He is simply wonderful! The rest of the cast is made up of, primarily, voices from the likes of James Gandolfini as the main and most troubled wild thing, Carol, Lauren Ambrose as the carefree and kind KW, Forest Whitaker and Catherine O'Hara as lovebirds Ira and Judith, Paul Dano as the lonely, sad Alexander, Chris Cooper as the yes-man Douglas, and Michael Berry Jr. as the quiet and shutoff Bull. All the voice actors do a great job, with Gandolfini and Ambrose shining the brightest! The layers of emotion that the voice actors give to their characters is so unique these days, it makes wish more people would give a damn! Catherine Keener and Mark Ruffalo show up briefly as Max's mother and her boyfriend, respectively. This is one of the best acted movies of the year! No question about it!
Back to Spike Jonze. Here is a director who has consistently turned in wonderfully quirky, very heartfelt films, from Being John Malkovich to Adaptation. Where the Wild Things Are is a big change of pace for him, but he handles the project as if he had been making movies like this for decades. He stays so true to the message and ideas of the book, whilst expanding the plot so that it would be interesting on screen, it is mind boggling! He so masterfully captures what is like to be kid, and all the confusion, imagination, innocence, playfulness, and mystery that goes with it! Despite this movie being a "fantasy" tale, it is very realistic. I don't think anyone can walk out of this movie and say that they didn't relate to Max at least once throughout the entire screening. They would be lying! Everything that we see Max contend with on the island with the creatures is a reflection of what every kid goes through at some point in their lives. Good luck not feeling that hard to find swelling in your chest when the movie reaches its heartbreaking-uplifting-at-the-same-time ending!
Words cannot adequately express how good Where the Wild Things Are is. I could talk all day about how great the cinematography is, how the almost dialogue free opening scenes are sublime, or how the mix of costumes and CGI to create the wild things could not have been done better. But, then you'd still be reading this and not going to see Where the Wild Things Are. So, that's all I have to say! Close out of this page, turn off your computer, and go see Where the Wild Things Are! To quote KW, "I could eat [it] up, I love [it] so!" A