Friday, October 16, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are


Based on Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE follows the adventures of a little boy in a wolf suit who runs away from home. Max (Max Records) is a creative, and energetic kid, but his rambunctiousness sometimes gets him into trouble. After lashing out at his mom (Catherine Keener), Max sprints out of the house to avoid a scolding. He finds a boat that takes him to an island inhabited by large creatures who make him their king.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE imaginatively evokes the childhood fears and wonders experienced when trying to make sense of the world. In a few brief brush strokes writer-director Spike Jonze and co-write Dave Eggers elegantly convey Max's confusion about his parents' divorce, his mom's new relationship, the emotional distance from his father, and gradual separation from his sister as she prefers to spend more time with friends her age.

These changes disorient Max and make him angry, but he's not a bad kid. Jonze wrote for and produced the JACKASS TV shows and films, and he envisions Max as a similarly rough and tumble boy who learns the pleasure and pain that comes in horseplay and in life.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE can be thin plot-wise, but the virtuosic visual component and amazing practical and CGI effects compensate for these storytelling shortcomings. There are shots in the film where I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Max's voyage on an ocean with towering waves and the stunning views of the island landscape and the wild things' giant nest under construction are indelible images.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is a sad, baffling, and joyous film, but such is the life of a child.

Grade: B

(Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

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