JT Film Review

59 – Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Spike Jonze

Cast – Max Records, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Cooper, Mark Ruffalo

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where_the_wild_things_are_poster2

Where the Wild Things Are is a famous book written in 1963 by Maurice Sendak. It has garnered considerable acclaim for its bleak yet accurate take on children emotions, and I found myself hoping against hope that the feelings of angst (REAL angst, not emo posturing) would be retained. I hoped against hope, and yet after walking out of the theatre I found that not only has the tone of the book been kept, but Spike Jonze has made a touching, smart, and deeply original movie.

Where other directors may have veered towards making the movie more “Family Friendly”, Jonze instead presented the story with absolutely minimum schmaltz. He shows here a wonderful attention to the details that keep the movie grounded in reality. Such a grounding is important, especially when the plot involves such seemingly fantastic details. The tone throughout is consistent and uncompromising. We are allowed here to have an antagonist who is angry, pent-up, a bit of a jerk, but with a real human soul. In other words, a real human child. Thank the Lord.

The acting in the movie is real, honest, and touching. The boy playing Max, an actor called Max Records, deserves an Oscar, or at the very least a nomination. It is the best performance I have seen in ages, similar in its natural feel to Sharlto Copley’s performance in District 9. The voice acting by Gandolfini is excellent, and the rest of the cast do well with the material.

where_the_wild_things_are03Perhaps the best aspect of the movie is the subtle way that Max’s relationship with his parents is compared and referenced in his relationship with the Wild Things. More specifically, when he is in the fantasy world of the Wild Things, each Wild Thing is a representation of either various parts of Max’s personality or of people he knows in the real world. While such a tactic could come across as over-done or full of cliche, here it is done with such subtlety and grace that we are allowed to discover it for ourself. It is not shoved in out faces in the slightest.

OVERALL

Where the Wild Things Are is a movie of grace and subtlety. It is about a child, but that does not make it a kids movie. I think this movie however would be suitable for children, just not the younger ones. Any kids below 10 or 11 might want to keep out of this. It’s too real and emotional for them.

A mature “kid’s movie”. I thought it’d never happen. Where the Wild Things Are is like nothing we have seen.

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TRAILER

“Where the Wild Things Are” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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October 27, 2009 - Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I definitely don’t think this is going to go the same route as the Harry Potter films. I mean despite all the tons of merch that’s been released already, this doesn’t seem as commercial as the HP ones, especially if you consider that it won’t be an ongoing series. I found another interesting post about this too, with a very insightful video interview where Sendak talks about his influences that went into creating the characters.

    Comment by Patty | October 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. No, Harry Potter is hand tailored for merchandising. I agree, this probably will not go down that route. And thank God for that too. In fact, I was quite surprised at the way they marketed this movie. It must have been tricky.

    Comment by jamesturpin | October 27, 2009 | Reply


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