Movie Review: Where the Wild Things Are

As one of the most anticipated movies of 2009, “Where the Wild Things Are” brings the classic book to life, reviving the Wild Things in all of us. The release of the movie marks the culmination of a nearly decade-long mission to bring Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book to the big screen. Director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovitch,” “Adaptation”) collaborated extensively with Sendak throughout every step of the process to produce the best possible adaptation of the book. The story follows Max, a mischievous yet imaginative kid with an affinity for wearing a wolf costume as he attempts to cope with his own misunderstood emotions. After being scolded by his mother, Max flees his house and reality all together and finds himself lost in an unfamiliar world. It is here that the loveable monsters of our childhood encounter the protagonist. “Let the wild rumpus begin!” Significant depth, absent from the book, has been added to the film to create more three-dimensional and relatable characters. Even the previously anonymous Wild Things now have names. This depth continues with the aesthetic perfection of the Wild Things themselves. The characters’ costumes are so visually enticing that they make a world full of giant monsters seem plausible, inviting and terrifying. In the land of the Wild Things, Max has to come to terms with his insecurities, longings and imperfections. Max experiences many familiar emotions in the land of the Wild Things, including loneliness, in To appease the desires of the Wild Things, Max claims to be their king and promises to unify and protect the temperamental group. For once in his young life, Max finally has control. Soon, however, the very problems Max vowed to prevent pull the tight-knit group of beings apart. As his power over the monsters and his emotions wanes, Max begins to understand the strength of his feelings and relinquish his need to control them all the time. Herein lays one of the major themes of Jonze’s adaptation: emotions are an organic aspect of life that should be embraced rather than contained. At first, “Where the Wild Things Are” seems to target an ambiguous audience. Movies based on children’s books are usually aimed at younger audiences, but the sinister connotations and complex ideas present in this film seem too mature for little kids to understand or enjoy. While children might find the movie too confusing or even boring, adults will appreciate the movie’s touching plotline and universal themes. “Where the Wild Things Are” is clearly a cinematic accomplishment and one of the best movies of 2009. Take note, busy Andover students, this one is worth your time. Grade: 6