Where the Wild Things Are

Release Date: October 16, 2009


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118/169 Max Braden I barely remember anything from the original story, but I don't remember it being this depressing. I wasn't a fan of the music choices either. But the set design was amazing.

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It's been a long time coming.

Where the Wild Things Are, a movie adaptation of the very well-loved children's book, will finally make its way into theaters thanks to director Spike Jonze and his screenplay co-writer David Eggers.

Winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Most Distinguished Picture Book of the Year, the Maurice Sendak classic tale is centered around a mischievous little boy named Max. One night, he gets into all kinds of trouble, dressing up in a wolf suit, and chasing the dog with a fork. His mother calls him a "wild thing", and after he yells back at her, "I'll eat you up!", she sends him to bed without any dinner.

Young Max is a lot like Calvin of the comic series Calvin & Hobbes, though. What this means is that he has a very, very active imagination, and rather than sulk in his bedroom, his active mind allows him to transform the room to a strange and wonderful place, with a forest, an ocean and a boat that he can sail in. He sets out across the water, and comes to the land of "wild things". These creatures look terrifying, but all Max needs to do is look at them, and they become tame.

Soon, Max becomes king of all the wild things, and has a lot of fun with his newfound friends as they misbehave and create havoc. All wonderful and fun things must come to an end, though. Max realizes that he wants to go where someone loves him best of all, and then sails back to his bedroom, where supper is waiting.

Transforming this story for the big screen is the aforementioned Jonze, who previously has helmed such movies as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. One might think that there's reason for concern given this track record, as Jonze hasn't really had a major, effects-driven blockbuster and has really only worked on quirky indie flicks, but he does seem to have used a combination of puppetry and computer animation to bring the wild things' world to life. The movie looks very much like the embodiment of the story.

The problem is, even though the look and feel of the movie is right, it might not be the kind of thing that really attracts a wide-ranging audience. Yes, lots of people have grown up with the book and have fond memories of it, but selling the trailer for a children's movie with an Arcade Fire song is the very definition of offbeat. There's also the danger of not precisely capturing the "idea" that someone has in their head with regards to the book - like The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, it's possible to turn people off entirely when this happens.

Warner Bros. has certainly worked hard to push the film, beginning with trailers in front of big summer movies like Up and working all the way up to a nice television commercial campaign. Where the Wild Things Are will have the benefit of IMAX dollars, which should stretch out its totals beyond what it might have made had it just been a customary theatrical release.

If young Max has his way, though, he'll howl his way right into your heart. (Kim Hollis/BOP

Vital statistics for Where the Wild Things Are
Main Cast Catherine Keener, Max Records, Mark Ruffalo
Supporting Cast Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker
Director Spike Jonze
Screenwriter Spike Jonze, David Eggers
Distributor Warner Bros.
Rating PG
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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