A movie about childhood, not a children’s movie
Based on the Maurice Sendak’s children’s book of the same name, Spike Jonze directs a fascinating, captivating and touching; yet also a depressing and unstructured film. Max (Max Records) is a child with a vivid imagination – his imagination often being utilised to escape his childhood issues, such as his parent’s divorce, his sister’s neglect and the pain of alienation. One night, his mother, Connie (Catherine Keener) brings her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo in a brief appearance) over the house for dinner. Max wears a a wolf costume and his imagination runs wild, demanding his mother to feed him meat and eventually biting her shoulder. After a verbal lashing from his mother, Max runs away from home to where the wild things are.
The movie starts off well enough and introduces Max and his many juvenile issues, growing emotional pains and being old enough to feel complex emotions, but too young to express them healthily. From here on in, Max is on his journey of self discovery with several of these ‘wild things’; monstrous, gravity defying and emotional beasts. Each one of them almost represents different aspects of Max’s personality; credit due to Jonze for expanding on the plot. Max Records first lead role was promising, had presence and a certain charm when on screen. With this charisma, more lead roles are sure to come. I have to say though, that this is definitely not a film for children; but a film about childhood. It has it’s light-hearted scenes but as the movie goes on, it feels darker and more depressing when certain emotionally unhealthy ‘wild things’ run rampant. The desolate look on the ‘wild things’ don’t help. What really impressed me though was the use of animatronics and CGI on the monsters. From the intricate details of their faces, capturing every tear and smile; or the wide scaled physically demanding pile-up scenes, Where The Wild Things Are is a possible candidate for one of the technical Academy Awards.
I got a glimpse of this trailer a while back and was eagerly anticipating the release. The soundtrack sounded promising and the use of frames caused me to believe that there were going to be transitions between Max’s fantasy world and the real world, in a similar brand to that of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. My unfulfilled expectations on this may have caused me to under-appreciate this. So if you are going to see this, don’t go in with any expectations and just digest every beautiful scene as it comes. An adorable story, great indie soundtrack and visually exquisite CGI makes this more than worth watching.
3 and a half stars.