The Wild Things Are is a film that I have been looking forward to from the very moment that I heard they were making a film of it. It was my favorite book growing up, and I looked forward to being transported back to my childhood for an hour and a half of whimsical, care-free rumpus featuring eight-foot tall furry Wild Things. Did this film deliver that?
Let me say the positives about this film before I start delving into the heavier aspects of it.
This movie is a very very well done film on a technical level. The acting is solid (if unspectacular), even for the Wild Things. Which were amazingly well done, by the way. If I went to a land populated by eight-foot tall furry Wild Things, they would look and act the exact way they do in this movie. My number one concern going in was that they would look hokey or unconvincing, or be done with crappy CGI. Luckily my fears were totally unwarranted.
Perhaps the strongest part of the film is the soundtrack. It was all original music composed by a girl named Karen O, who I believe is dating the director. That was another minor concern for me going in, as I was wondering if her doing the soundtrack was a job she got specifically for her relationship with the director (kind of like the female lead in Temple of Doom and all of Helena Bonham Carter’s career). However, that was another unnecessary concern, as the soundtrack turned out to be the highlight of the movie for me. The film isn’t very heavy on dialogue, so the soundtrack needed to facilitate the visuals, and keep things interesting as we see the story progress. And it succeeds so beautifully. I actually might look in to purchasing the soundtrack.
The only real technical negative I can think of is that the film drags for about ten minutes leading into the third act. Not horribly, but it could have stood to be sped up a bit.
My main problem with the movie has to deal with those heavier themes I mentioned earlier. Just so you know, there are going to be a number of minor SPOILERS in this section, so read carefully if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want it….well….spoiled.
In the book Where The Wild Things Are, Max misbehaves, is sent to his room, has his 9 sentence adventure, and then is right back in his room and his dinner is “still hot.” Within the framework of that storyline, there is immense security. However, the film takes the story a different direction, which was depressing more than anything else. Max lives with his mom, after his dad left in unexplained circumstances. His mom isn’t around very often because she has to work, and even when she is home, she cant provide him the emotional support that he as a rambunxious 9-year-old needs. She has to work from home, handle things around the house and balance her boyfriend in the mix.
One of the most tragic moments shows Max lying in his bed, looking at his nightstand. On that nightstand is a globe, which an engraved plaque on the bottom, reading something to this effect: “To the owner of this world. Love, Dad.” Max’s world, as any child’s does, revolves around receiving emotional and physical support from his parents. However, his dad is now simply his bi-weekly weekend guardian, which requires about as much emotional support as one might provide a goldfish.
Which all the sadness and uncertainty that Max is faced with, it’s no surprise that he acts out. He runs off into the woods, goes where the wild things are…..and they have the exact same problems as the real world. The film basically ends with the most level headed Wild Thing telling Max that “Hey, the world sucks. Smile about it.”
Overall, this is a very well done film, but it was kinda depressing, which I’m sure had something to do with my expectations. For the technical excellence of this film, not to mention the fact that it did affect me emotionally (which is the entire point of art) I’m going to give Where The Wild Things Are a 78%.
For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-man