Where the wild things are film review
Based on a short children's story of the same name by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are is an interesting tale. The short story is just a few pages long and consists mainly of illustrations so it was quite an ambitious feat for the writers to develop a movie lasting over an hour and a half.
I am one of the few who was not familiar with the short story before watching the film. When it was advertised as being based on one of the most beloved children's stories of all time, my ears perked up. How could I not know about this story? Book reviews show it to be one of the all time favorite stories of much of its audience. A minority of people do not like the story and find it a bit creepy.
The story features monsters that look formidable but are really quite harmless. The story begins with a young boy Max who has behavioral problems that some might just call his being bratty. He seems to be starved for attention. His father is absent and his mother is dating. His sister Claire is in high school and has her own friends. Max is largely ignored by her and her friends. He decides to get some attention by starting a snowball fight with them as they emerge from the house. It is all fun and games at first. Max is enjoying himself and Claire and her friends are happy to participate by throwing snowballs back at Max, but soon Max is in tears as he seems to have been hurt by being hit too hard. He is ignored instead of comforted as his sister and her friends get into a car and leave.
Max then has anger coupled with his youthful energy and decides to go into her sister's bedroom and trash it. Max is at an act first, think later stage and does not feel badly about what he has done until it is all over. He confides in his mother who comforts him so that he does not feel so bad. Shortly later however, it is his mother who he offends. Max embarrasses her while she is at home entertaining a man on a dinner date. Max jumps on the table and misbehaves. His mother's pleas fall on empty ears.
As in the short story, Max pretend to be a monster himself and tells his mother "I'll eat you up!" She grabs him to hold him and get him down from the table and he bites her shoulder! In dismay she drops him and explains that he hurt her. He then runs out the front door, running away from home on a wild adventure. (In contrast, in the short story, Max is sent to his bedroom without dinner and his wild adventure begins in his imagination while he has to be in his room.)
The film makes it seem like everything Max goes on to experience is real. He runs down the street of the neighborhood and eventually gets to a shore with a small abandoned boat. He takes the boat from its anchor and allows himself to drift out to sea in it.
He is at sea for quite some time it seems, definitely overnight. Finally, he docks and goes up a cliff where there seems to be some inhabitants and activity. He stays out of their view at first but is amazed by what he sees from his hiding place. They are large furry monsters unlike anything known to exist on earth but Max does not scream for seeing the likes of something he has never seen before. He continues to watch and then runs out to join them. He is not immediately accepted but he is not attacked either. He does not feel like he is in danger. He is comfortable with these monsters and fabricates a story that he is a wandering king from a faraway land.
The monsters soon declare Max the king of their own land and "the wild rumpus" begins. There is a montage of Max and the monsters just running around and going wild, partying really.
After a night's sleep, they all begin to plan. They want to develop their land, including building a fort. They put trust in Max to lead them. Doubt arises relatively quickly among the monsters- Carol, KB, Alexander and others (in the movie, they are named but in the book they are not). The monsters begin to realize that Max is just a lost boy not a wandering king. It was all good while it lasted and the monsters definitely develop an affection for Max as he does for them but it isn't long before he must journey home again.
Where the Wild Things Are Trailer
Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo and others
I rate it 3/5 stars ***