Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mike S versus Where the Wild Things Are (2009)


I think it would be hard to find a person who HASN'T either heard of, or read Maurice Sendak's book, "Where the Wild Things Are".

I know I have very fond memories of reading it.  In fact, it was one of my favorite books growing up.

It had whimsy, humour, a character every child could relate to, and satisfied my need to run wild with my imagination without having to worry about rules.

The 2009 live action adaptation may cause torn feelings from fans of the book.

First of all, this movie is about growing up, but is NOT for children- and I'll discuss that shortly.

Visually, "Where the Wild Things Are" is an amazingly faithful adaptation of the book.  The colour palette and slightly faded/grainy look matches the illustrations to perfection.  The Wild Things look great- and follow their literary counterparts extremely closely.  Unfortunately, the visual colouring and tone brings a touch of melancholy to even the parts that would normally make you either laugh, or at least smile.  The ending in particular, while "happy", still carries a note of sadness and tiredness to it.

The story is a great expansion of the book, and brings extra depth and dimension to Max and the Wild Things.  It allows a better sense of Max's feelings, how he deals with them, and what lessons Max takes away from his experience.

But as I said, this movie is about growing up- but may be difficult for children to watch.

It's not as whimsical as the book.  The tone is much more nuanced and "grown up", and you'll get the impression that this movie is meant to remind adults about how challenging it can be for a child to learn to deal with the emotions they feel- especially anger, hurt, lonliness, and fear.  There are scenese that could prove unsettling for some children (I'm 45 years old, and the scene with Carol chasing Max through the woods while threatening to eat him un-nerved me).

As I said earlier, "Where the Wild Things Are" may cause fans of the book to be torn about how they feel about it.  I know that I look at the original story much differently now.

And I think that's part of the point- to get adults thinking about the message of the book, and to remember what it meant to be a "Wild Thing" as a kid themselves.  I'm giving it a spot in "The Good".

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