Growing up, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are was one of those books that was so epic to me. It was like a masculine take on the Oz and Alice stories I loved so much, but instead of words, it told it's story mostly in pictures. The Oz and Alice stories might've had more pages than Where the Wild Things Are, but to me, what was left to the imagination was more epic than even Baum or Carrol could conjure up, and that was the beauty of the book. It was so open up for interpretation than it was any child's story.
The movie version is probably how directior Spike Jonze saw the book in his head when he first read it too. For this film, the text is obviously expanded to include more background on Max before he went all "wild" and his monster friends, who now have names and are voiced by celebrities; namely James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Forest Whitaker and Catherine O'Hara to name a few. Our lead character, Max, is played to childhood tantrum perfection by Max Records.
Watching the movie was so surreal. I grew up in the 80's and the movie reminded me of the many obscure children's films I used to watch as a child in the local public library. I notice that it had the same feeling of childhood seclusion that dominated the swedish Pippi Longstocking films. So since the movie looks like it was made in the 80's, I think it's safe to say that movie has a timeless quality.
Spike Jonze has always been a visionary and he really puts his own unique vision to Where the Wild Things Are, but the cinematic look is undeniably inspired by Maurice Sendak's original illustrations. The story itself is far from self-explanatory. Like the book, the beauty of this movie is what the audience brings to it. There are many visuals and situations in the movie that are up for interpetation and discussion, so you know I was loving it while in the theater. This is not a movie you watch just once. This is a movie you watch several times to fully enjoy it. Where the Wild Things Are is going right up there on my shelf next to MGM's The Wizard of Oz and CBS' Alice in Wonderland.
If you enjoyed this article, you should read these:
The Wizard of Oz - A Parody Review - A different take on the classic MGM film. Everyone's reading it, you should too.
Toy Story 3 - Brave Little Toys - The conclusion to the Toy Story series... or is it?
CBS' Alice in Wonderland - Carol Channing, John Stamos and Pat Morita all in one Wonderland movie. HOLLA!!!