Spike Jonze is a master at coming up with brilliant yet simple ideas. I’m guessing that just about any other director would have CGI’d this movie to its death, but Jonze decided to go with costumes, which really makes all the difference.
My one and only complaint is the score by Yeah Yeah Yeah’s lead singer Karen O, which at times is way too Juno-esque for its own good. But other than that, it’s a touching movie and more than does justice to the classic book.
A review by Maryann:
All right, so I just watched Where the Wild Things Are today. I know that this review is about a year late, but I actually feel impassioned enough to write it even if it may no longer be relevant. My comment below really only touches upon the tip of the iceberg of feeling that I have for this movie. Now I shall divulge the entire breadth of my dislike for this film.
Don’t get me wrong: Spike Jonze had cahones for taking on this iconic story, and as far as sheer filmmaking and imagination goes it is really impressive. It is incredibly beautiful. The costumes are wonderfully authentic, the cinematography is enviable, and the voicing of the Things is done so naturally and well that it’s amazing. The way in which it is filmed is almost documentary style, and I enjoy it all the more because it feels truly like a documentary created from a child’s hectic perspective.
Now it’s time for me to say it as I saw it though, and I think that in this case blunt is best… Max is a total dick, even as far as nine-year-olds go. I understand that this film is meant to be a celebration of childhood, but it feels much more like a privileging of childhood, specifically male childhood. I believe that we as viewers are meant to understand that the actions taken by Max and the Things are meant to be read as mischief-making leading to infectious fun, but I found it all rather ugly and mean, bordering on cruel. Critics say that the film is largely about adolescent confusion, and reality, and sadness. But the film just feels SO concerned that you as the viewer know that it’s about those themes; to me it felt as though the Things and Max simply went through some sort of failed therapy session.
And now the ending: if you ask me, Max’s expression as his mother falls asleep at the table is far to pleased and smug. I mean, Christ, he’s eating CAKE. For all the world, this film said to me that if you’re a single mother your kid will turn on you if you even dare to attempt taking some time out for yourself (his major temper tantrum came when his mother had a man over for dinner; oh, and I agree with her boyfriend when he said, “You can’t let your son treat you that way” in so many words), so don’t even try.
My rating: 6/10