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Thursday, November 5, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW - Where the Wild Things Are

Yet another flick based on a short children’s book. For those fearing the same result as Jim Carrey in Grinch make-up, lower your shields. It may drag, but it never sags. Likewise, Spike Jonze may not be as great as his name, but I’ll give him credit on this one. Where the Wild Things Are managed to gently probe my heart, but I’m not exactly sure why. Frankly, that kind of bothers me.

Appropriately, Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are is a case of “did it really happen or was it just the kid’s imagination?” It doesn’t really matter either way, what is important is that you walk away knowing little boys are f---ing insane. Coming from a long history of wild imagination and impulsive energy I can certainly appreciate the love for an “igloo” made out of snow or acting like some creature out of a Godzilla movie. Young guns are wild and creative and Jonze does the audience right by establishing the fun and trials that come with being a young boy whom values indoor forts.

Eventually Max runs away from our unimaginative and boring world and finds himself with a bunch of snot nosed monsters that look like Tim Burton’s take on Sesame Street. Though it turns out that finding a home with other wild things wasn’t the answer to his problems. Yes, young padawan Max finds that maturity can be alienating and a lack of it can hurt others. So why be wild if growing up is inevitable? To all the females in the room who’ve never pretended to be Optimus Prime in their back yard: Wild. Is. F--king. Better.

But Jonze shows restraint. He knows better than to end a coming of age story without age. Though I wished Max’s journey to the land of evil Jim Henson puppets could have worked out, his visit leaves the Wild Things in turmoil. So we see the impressive visuals of these giant stuffed animals go emo and allow Max’s reign to fall on them like boulders. (Or dirt balls rather…) Max’s revelation is the pain he’s caused, which is linked back to his mother whom he reunites with in the end.

I suppose you could classify Where the Wild Things Are as a kind of Peter Pan retelling. But without a Captain Hook the story is a little long-winded. How much does it really take to make post-infancy mindsets clash? With that in mind I feel like Wild Things would have made a better short film. I guess this is why the book wasn’t too long. I don’t mean to sound under appreciative of Jonze’s love for boyhood imagination, but a movie should be more than just straight-up nostalgia. It was a valiant effort nonetheless. So I’ll give it bonus points for that.

*** out of ****

1 comment:

way said...

Hey Geej. I've never really stumbled upon your blog until now. I think Mary told me about it once upon a time, but I just never came upon reading your reviews and whatnot. I'll most definitely visit more.

I loved this movie. Of course, I would. I saw Adaptation last year and it rendered me a huge appreciation for Jonze. So walking into W.T.W.T.A., I was expecting something pretty similarly mind-trip-esque. I know what you mean, when you say "a movie should be more than just straight-up nostalgia." But that is what the book a way. Jonze actually added a lot more to the "at home with my mommy" sequences to the story line that Maurice Sendak sorta left up to a kid's imagination. I'm glad you liked it, nonetheless. A lot of people thought there was nothing going on the whole movie, that there were just animals throwing rocks at trees...and I just thought that shows a lack of sight in a lot of the audience. Do people not see the deep human emotion that is prevalent in even the straight-up action sequences? I know you saw that, but I'm speaking to the mass here. I felt like there was some really sad things going.

I guess I would say the movie is a study of internal character struggles, where the story lies heavily on being told through a dream. I thought all of this worked really well.

I want to say that I would've done the movie differently. I kept thinking that while watching it, but after some time, I thought to myself...this is exactly how a kid thinks...that is when I really appreciated Jonze's vision in the film.