“Where the Wild Things are,” the film adapted from the classic children’s novel, is an emotionally intricate, funny and playful film that portrays the throes of a child troubled with the changing world around him.
Director Spike Jonze’s third film is an emotionally driven film that is challenging, in part because of the intimidating nature of the Wild Things.
The formula of playful interaction between characters, breathtaking cinematography and focused theme creates a children’s film with sensitivity and heart.
Set in a snowy suburban neighborhood, Max (Max Records) becomes aware of a shift in his familial relationships and reacts by lashing out. He eventually runs off to a boat that takes him to the land of the Wild Things.
The film is based on the 48-page children’s classic by Maurice Sendak. The book’s themes of loneliness and growing up are expanded into a more than an hour and a half film.
Although there are moments of sheer beauty in this movie, at times they are inconsistent and too dark. When the Wild Things are introduced, Max finds Carol (James Gandolfini) tearing down the homes of the Wild Things. The rest stand around and passively try to stop him.
The dark scene is contrasted with a moment of joy minutes later as they conclude their wild rumpus with a Wild Things dog pile, and settle down to wish each other a good night.
The soundtrack by Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer Karen O and her backing band The Kids fits the film perfectly. The score is an important layer in this film. It fills in the gaps where dialogue would not fit.
The childlike dialogue between the Wild Things and Max was not expected, and at times slowed the film down. If not for the score, the film would have likely come to a screeching halt.
Just like the 1970s classic challenged children and parents years ago, the film version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” will leave people feeling the same.
Yet, the film doesn’t quite feel just like a kid’s film or just like an adult film, but it fits into a gray area that both generations can appreciate.