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Yo Meth, where my wild tings at?

December 10, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are: Film Review

Adapting much-loved children’s books for the silver screen is often a perilous task. For every triumph – the recent Roald Dahl interpretations Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox – the road is littered with the corpses of failed cash-ins like Dr Seuss’ The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat. Capturing the magic of these quirky authors and transporting them from the page to film takes visionary direction as with Tim Burton and Wes Anderson in the Dahl films mentioned.

Jonze has a love for the craft that’s needed for the story’s cinematic success

Going on proven form, cult director Spike Jonze was a clear frontrunner to take on the Herculean task of adapting Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are. Known for the outré 1999 film Being John Malkovich and countless standout music videos, Jonze possesses the flair and love for the craft necessary for the short story’s success at the cinema.

Only around 20 pages long, the book tells the story of a young boy called Max (played by Max Records) who, after being sent to bed for disobedience, sails off to a magical and monstrous world of which he becomes king. The book is as much about Sendak’s luscious imagery and fantastical illustration as it is about the story.

All-star cast gives voice and an emotional background to the ‘wild things’

To fill a movie’s duration, Jonze took on co-writing duties with David Eggers to expand the story and adjust the characterisation. An all-star cast gives voice and an emotional background to the ‘wild things’. Max strongly identifies with James Gandolfini’s Carol, a lumbering monster prone to Tony Soprano-esque bouts of rage, but possessing the naïve insecurities about loneliness of a young child. KW voiced by Lauren Ambrose can be seen to be an imaginary facet of Max’s closeness with his mother, while other monsters such as the hilarious goat-like Alexander (Paul Dano) represent the neuroses and fears of adolescence.

On a visual level, Jonze’s adaptation of Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are is stunning. Vast desert landscapes contrast with the claustrophobia of dense, dark woods and bizarre constructions of matchstick caves. It’s a heavily idealised vision of nature and depicts the unfettered existence of the ‘wild things’ in the otherworld perfectly.

Possesses real weight and texture – a must-see for everyone this Christmas

Possessing real weight and texture, the monsters convey genuine emotion as they look to their new king so optimistically to “keep out all the sadness” and keep them together. The emotive qualities are aided by beautiful cinematography, a jangling pop score and enough comic dialogue to make Where The Wild Things Are a must-see for everyone this Christmas. Let the wild rumpus begin!

Where The Wild Things Are goes on nationwide release on December 11 2009

Originally published at, December 10 2009, 10:16am

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