Where the Wild Things Are – a review
There is one real downside to a movie getting enormous critical buzz. It sets unrealistically high expectations in some audience members (like me). Spike Jonze’s latest suffers from that problem.
Because let me be clear on one thing – I liked the movie. Quite a bit, actually. But it wasn’t this great transformative experience I’d read about and hoped for. Instead I found an intriguing film that didn’t fully connect.
The book by Maurice Sendak is a classic for its simplicity. The film adaptation takes the same basic story, but expands the scope of world Max discovers. The creatures all have names and personalities, and fight amongst themselves over petty concerns. I feel it’s pretty clear that Jonze has set them each up to represent an aspect of Max’s personality he doesn’t see in himself – the unreasonable temper is embodied by Carol, the pessimism is Judith. I liked this idea, but because it’s a so-called children’s movie, I think those stereotypes remain too one-dimensional.
The strength of the film is in the visuals – the monsters are fully realized as if they stepped right out of Sendak’s book. The landscapes are stunning, particularly the fort built by the creatures. And the unveiling of Carol’s fantasy diorama is a moment that makes you inhale with wonder.
All in all I think this is a good movie, but falls short of being great. If you do want to see it, I recommend running out to do so now, because the big screen is where it’s meant to live. My grade – B.