The long awaited film rendition of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are was finally released in theaters on October 16. Director Spike Jonze and Sendak collaborated beautifully, along with screenwriter David Eggers, to breathe life into the Wild Things and their tiny leader Max on screen. Where the Wild Things Are is one of the best movies I have seen all year. It speaks to the child and “Wild Thing” within us all.
Max is a young, lonely boy who feels ignored and unloved by his family. One night, when he misbehaves and gets sent to bed without dinner, his anger drives him to run away from home. In the style of Alice in Wonderland, he then finds himself sailing on a rough ocean to an unknown place in a wolf costume. It is here that he meets Carol, Ira, KW, Douglas, Judith, Alexander, and The Bull—giant creatures with the personalities of stubborn five-year-olds. Max convinces them that he has magical powers and as a result, becomes their king. Getting along with the others becomes harder the longer he stays, and Max eventually ventures back home to his anxious mother and a warm dinner.
This dark and brooding film had me laughing and crying from beginning to end. The film was stylistically reminiscent of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Science of Sleep, movies which are full of interesting camera angles, soft lighting, and lovable characters. The Wild Things’ were skillfully depicted and their childish dialogue was not only humorous but incredibly insightful. Both the Wild Things and Max are faced with the task of managing their anger and maintaining complex relationships. Although this subtle plotline may not captivate younger viewers, it enhanced Jonze’s beautiful cinematography and Sendak’s incredible imagination.
Equally as anticipated as the movie was its soundtrack, which was produced Karen O and the Kids. Karen O’s sound and energy are extremely compatible with the restlessness of Max and his Wild Things. The soundtrack has heavy rock, folk, alternative, indie, and acoustic influences; some of the songs may even be called lullabies. Some of “the Kids” include Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs band mates Brian Chase and Nick Zinner, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs, Imaad Wasif of New Folk Implosion, and an untrained children’s choir. The creativity that flows throughout the tracks gives the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack enough potency to stand apart from the movie as an incredible music accomplishment.
Want to see Where the Wild Things Are? Click here for showtimes.