Where the Wild Things Are
Rated PG; Directed by Spike Jonze; Starring Max Records, Catherine Keener, voice talent of James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose, Forest Whitaker
One of the most anticipated movies of the year, Where the Wild Things Are takes a well-loved children’s book and comes up with an interesting, sometimes beautiful film. The expanded story is a strange one and not always successful, but it does have its moments.
Max (Max Records) is finding life hard to handle. He can’t understand why he does the things he does, but he keeps finding himself in trouble. One night, after a major tantrum he runs off into the night, through the woods, and onto a boat that eventually leads him to an island where the wild things live. The huge monsters aren’t sure about Max, but he convinces them that he’s their new king and the fun begins.
Director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) makes some interesting choices in this film. Instead of something totally computer animated, he goes for live action with actors in monster costumes. This actually works incredibly well. There is a sense of menace as small Max shares the same space with these large creatures that play rough.
Max Records is amazing as the wild and unhappy Max. Catherine Keener adds depth to the story as his mother. The voices of James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, and Lauren Ambrose work well as the creatures. Their characters are not light and frivolous, but rather moody and argumentative, and their voices carry this off.
The movie doesn’t always succeed. It is not emotionally involving so much as more interesting to watch. The movie goes in strange directions, making Where the Wild Things Are is a different experience for both children and adults, and that’s a good thing.