MOVIE REVIEW ‘Monsterpiece’ or Just Monstrous?

Spike Jonze Takes a Stab at Maurice Sendak’s Classic

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Spike Jonze’s newest release, Where the Wild Things Are, brings a childhood favorite to life.
Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Where The Wild Things Are

Directed by Spike Jonze

Written by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers

Based on Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Starring Max Records and Pepita Emmerichs

Rated PG

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From a mere ten sentences, Spike Jonze has managed to create a full-length feature film in his newest release, Where the Wild Things Are. The movie is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s picture book and delves into the realms of childhood and love at its truest and simplest form.

The film tells the story of a kid, Max, who fails to realize the love that surrounds him and is constantly living in his own fantasy. Near the start of the movie, he tells a tale of vampires, creates a fort that’s taking off into space, and dresses up as a strange creature showing how he, like most other kids — but maybe a little more than others — is deeply rooted in his own little fantasy world. However, when faced with the reality of his life, Max runs away from home one night and sails away in a sailboat (across the sea of his subconscious mind) till he reaches an island and meets large talking beasts — the “Wild Things” — and becomes their king. The movie tells a heart-wrenching tale that captures the essence of childhood at its most terrifying and most beautiful moments.

However, whether this movie is actually a children’s movie is up for debate. While there isn’t enough to rate the film higher than PG, the story portrays an extremely dark side of childhood and there is not enough to entertain a kid — or, at times, me — thoroughly. However, I must say that despite the few tiring moments, the film was made with sheer ingenuity, and is a masterpiece. It’s simple, yet the story has depth.

As said before, the film explores childhood; at times, the perspective leans towards an adult’s view of childhood, however. From Max’s tantrums, to his lack of cooperation, to him running away from home — there are times when I wasn’t sure whether to feel bad for Max or to be annoyed at him.

Once Max is with the “Wild Things,” more of his childhood and his personality is revealed. Without giving too much away, it soon becomes obvious to the viewer that the “Wild Things” are representations of either some part of Max’s life or his personality. The “Wild Things” are given as an insight into Max’s past and his mind — the symbolism is perfect, since each and every one of us has a little Wild Thing hidden inside, as kids, and even now as college students and adults — though I never expected them to be quite as sinister as Jonze portrays.

Although there are flaws in this movie, there are still a great many good things about it, from the talented performances by the actors to its dark but touching theme. The movie is a work of art. However, while Where the Wild Things Are is a work of art, it still fails to fully do justice to Maurice Sendak’s classic, even though tens of millions of dollars and many years were spent working on this movie. The film is a darker rendition of the classic book.

Watching it simply as a movie, I would have been completely satisfied, but watching it, knowing it was an adaptation of one of my favorite books as a child, the movie failed to meet my expectations for the book (but then again, not many adaptations meet the expectations of the readers).

Nonetheless, I would recommend the movie. Though Spike Jonze’s unique adaptation may not be satisfying to your inner child, it is still a wonderful movie to watch, and it will pull at your heartstrings to the very end.