Da Couch Tomato

An attempt at a new layout, with horrible glitches, and very minimal knowledge of HTML.

Where the Wild Things Are

By Mary Quite Contrary
Sun, 18 Jul 2010, 15:49.

Like with any form of fiction, the imagined is used to arrive at a deeper understanding of reality. So it is with Max’s stories, reflecting his thoughts, emotions and experiences with his family. Most of the time he is left to play by his lonesome because his sister Claire is preoccupied with her friends, and Mom with her work; we can only infer that his father is not part of the household because his mom had invited her boyfriend over for dinner. The film commendably makes the father’s absence causative with a shot of a globe in Max’s room. Inscribed: “To Max, the owner of this world,” introducing the desire for control. His loneliness and fear of abandonment, which his father may have been the first one to instill, is reinforced with a storytelling scene with his mom about a toothless vampire. Though the story didn’t provide much comfort to a mother of two kids in danger of losing her job, we are surprised—as we always are of children—of his sudden insight.

Childhood is so difficult to portray in all its raw tenderness and complexity. Its difficulty lies in experience because the storytellers are often adults,jaded with the world and looking for their own childhood, which is a different perspective entirely. Where The Wild Things Are is a winning portrayal of a nine-year-old boy’s ego, and it does so without a moralizing/othering voice. On the contrary, it preserves a child’s innocence in anger and in violence. Max runs from home in the middle of the night after a pulling a violent fit with his mother. He sails on a boat night and day, and discovers an island where big, hairy monsters live. They want to eat him but he tricks them into making him their king. They wish that he could be king forever. But there were promises he couldn’t keep. Like how he couldn’t keep everybody together and how he couldn’t keep sadness away. The monsters love him and are sad to see him go. Max runs home to find his mom waiting for him with his dinner. In his mind, Max is able to literally deal with his own demons, namely: Carol, Judith, Ira, Douglas, Alexander, The Bull and KW. Screenwriters Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze are noteworthy in characterizing imaginary monsters of depth and resisting stereotype. Later in the movie, Max divides them into “good guys” and “bad guys.” We see how favoritism affects family members. The “bad guys” feel neglected and need the same understanding Max does in real life.

Carol's attitude resembles Max’s in real life. He is angry at KW and eventually towards Max, because he feels abandoned and betrayed by them. He has a destructive tendency towards himself and others around him, but that doesn’t make him bad. He just needs to learn how to control his emotions. Max learns that kings and mothers don’t have the power to protect the ones they love from being hurt, or lonely.

Spike Jonze rocked so hard in directing this masterpiece. The music is edgy and touching with a boost of raw emotion. It was a delight hearing Karen O of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs on vocals! The resounding scream, in the scene where Carol is enraged from being tricked by Max (he wasn’t really a king with superpowers), was so pivotal in the climax for signaling danger, creating urgency and giving energy to the chase that follows. At first I thought it was Max screaming, but realizing that it was the part of the music made it all the more memorable and brilliant. Cinematography is by Lance Acord. A shaky camera follows Max whenever he chases his dog or runs away from home to a world of his own. For balance, the film gives us superb geographies, beautiful sceneries in long shots. Production design was the first question in my head after reading the book, as to how extensive the graphic/special effects would be. Using gigantic stuffed monsters, gave a uniqueness to the film, which is also internal to the story. They are after all inspired by Max’s toys in his room. They have a wide variety of facial expressions, can jump around and throw big things (I want to have a Douglas for myself). The set also was amazing in size and detail, from the stick houses to the tree holes, to the fortress, to Carol’s miniatures. And where would we be if not for the special effects and seamless animation? I was, upon seeing the film, nothing short of ecstatic and content. Sound, image, and timing are in perfect unity to rival anyone’s imagination of this storybook by Maurice Sendak.

A perfect ten.

Source: Warner Bros.

(Read more on Where the Wild Things Are after the jump.)


By Sting Lacson

Nice try, Spike Jonze. But it didn't work.

First of all, this was adapted from a ten-page children's book by the great Maurice Sendak. Adapting a ten-page children's book (with less than five lines per page) into a two-hour screenplay, while staying true to the book's essence, is really close to impossible.

Okay, so the CGI was great. You brought the Wild Things to life.

But Max is supposed to be younger. Like way younger. The kid here looked like a scrawny fifth-grader. And he talked older, too.

In the book, the Wild Things were generic. In the movie, they had personalities. Was that sexual tension between KW and Carol? Come on. You can't have sexual tension between monsters in a children's film.

Okay, so Karen O did the soundtrack. But that wasn't enough to save this film.

Great job on the voice actors, for I didn't recognize any of them. Except for James Gandolfini. I could name that voice in one word. But since I love him as Tony Soprano, he is hereby forgiven.

And among the live actors, I would have to give props to Catherine Keener, who played Max's mom. She was the only one I could remember, aside from Max. And Max sucked.

*some info from IMDb

Where the Wild Things Are. USA. 2009.

Rating: Six out of ten.


This was my favorite book and the movie touched me in all the ways the book did when I was young.

Great review

Thank you, Information Review. You have a great site, by the way.

Premium Blogspot Templates
Copyright © 2012 Da Couch Tomato