It’s time to become a Wild Thing with Director Spike Jonze‘s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. In typical Jonze fashion, Where the Wild Things Are is both a visual treat for the eyes, and an exploration for the mind. From the sets and the the costumes, to the raw and honest performance by Max Records, Spike will be sure to have you howling for more.
Check out the review below…
- Director: Spike Jonze (interview)
- Cast: James Gandolfini, Max Records (interview), Catherine Keener, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose, Catherine O’ Hara, Chris Cooper
- Director of Photography: Lance Accord (interview)
- Costume Designer: Casey Storm (interview)
- Production Designer: K.K. Barrett (interview)
- Art Director: Sonny Gerasimowicz (interview)
Jonze brings us a dark and imaginative adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story, where Max, a disobedient little boy who feels rejected by everyone, gets in a fight with his mother when she brings a man home for dinner. Max, stands on the tables and growls until his mother has finally had it and demands him to stop. In a moment of rage he bites his mother and then takes off and creates his own world in a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler.
- The Set Up/Honesty: From the very beginning we realize that although there are some parallels to the book the film extends from its source material and becomes something all its own. The set up is honest to both real life and the book. Certain things happen to us and although they’re not the worst things in the world, as a child (and sometimes an adult) these tiny things hurt more than anything else. The rest of the film is not necessarily filled with the wonder of being a child, but rather the honest pains one goes through growing up. Prepare yourself for something deeply beautiful that at times will delve into emotions that you might not expect.
- The Costumes: The way that the characters move, their facial expression, their reactions, all bring about a realistic and yet imaginative feeling to the film. The texture of their costumes makes the film feel so much more personal. The eyes specifically add a sweetness and honesty to these otherwise violent and at times threatening animals.
- Max Records as ‘Max’: Normally hiring an actor who has never acted before to lead a mainstream movie is not the best choice, but for this film, it is what makes it what it is. As opposed to many newbie actors, he doesn’t push, he doesn’t try, he simply allows the inner Wild Thing from within him to run around. Thanks to Spike’s ability to reign in his strong character, Max was the perfect child for the role.
- Raw Emotion/ Personality: Not only from the actors and characters in the film, but from the film itself. Everything about it from the colors to the shoots coincide with the message within the film: deep and gritty.
- Violence: Some people are commenting on how violent and crazy the character “Max” behaves in the film, but the point of them film is that everything occurs in your imagination, including the violence. If violence only took place in your imagination and you couldn’t get hurt by it, wouldn’t you push it as far as it could go? Think about all the action films you see, war films, hell the scary or kick-ass dreams you’ve probably had at night. Yes, you still get scared and feel the rush from the threatening moment, but when it’s fantasy, why not push it too the limit? You do it all the time. And therefore in the film, why not make the fantasy as real as possible so that you can experience it as well without harm?
- Knowing What it Is: So many films fall victim to the mixed genre disease in which they never really know what they are and audience members never knows what exactly is going on (cough…Vampire’s Assistant…excuse me…). This film is imaginative, it is child-like, it is aggressive, and it is a serious emotional film that will make you feel something about it/for it. There’s nothing half ass-ed about this film and for that reason alone, it’s one of the first pieces of work I could enjoy in a long time because I was never confused by what I was watching.
- The Music: At times the use of songs instead of a score added to the raw emotion that helped to embody the ‘out of control’ tone that went with the film. But….
- The Music: As I JUST said and I did enjoy the music at certain posts, but other times it was a bit jarring and took away from the excitement already taking place in the scene. Karen-O’s score worked for the most part, but there were a few emotional moments that could have been a but more underplayed in order to let the scene speak for itself.
- Needed more wonder: As much as I LOVE the honesty and the overall feel of the movie, the trailer, posters, and everything else promises wonder and this film doesn’t go there. This isn’t a fantasy land where things come true, this is a realistic place where a young boy comes when everything has gone wrong. Maybe this has more to do with expectations than actual delivery?
- The Ending: Although the film may have been a touch long, they needed to spend more time developing the ending. It felt like something got cut that could have added to the ending. The entire last act was a touch rushed and his feelings could have been indulged a bit more.
Go see this film and experience it for yourself. From what I’ve heard so far, no two people will feel the same about it… so go figure out what it means to you!
Where the Wild Things Are will be released in theaters nationwide on October 16, 2009.
- Spike Jonze and Max Record Interview for ScreenCrave
- Read interview with the Creative Team Behind the Film
- Photos from Where the Wild Things Are
- Spike Jonze Talks about Creating the Characters Suits
- First Set of Where the Wild Things Are Banners
- More Where the Wild Things Are Banners
- Photos from Set
- Teaser Trailer
- Featurette with Maurice Sendak