I’ve seen a slew of reviews about “Where the Wild Things Are”, so I’ll just add my two pesos here in brief. I had the opportunity to take my two sons, ages 6 and 9, to see it this weekend and watching their reactions sparked a few thoughts for this space.
First thought — the movie will be a disappointment to anyone wanting escapist entertainment. If you’re taking your kids to see it thinking you’ll get a formulaic romp in fantasyland, don’t bother. This isn’t that movie. Which isn’t to say that the storyline isn’t fantastic–it definitely is, but it’s more thoughtful by several orders of magnitude than the common kid-focused flick.
Second thought — my older son loved the movie, my younger son was bored senseless. Accounting for personality differences (my older son is prone to enjoying thoughtful fantasy), I think you can expect a similar reaction if you have kids in this age range. Younger kids will get lost in the pauses. The script wasn’t written to elicit a laugh around every corner, or to keep you hungry for the next action sequence. Again, this isn’t that movie.
Third thought –even though the movie veers from the book, it does so in a way that I think Maurice Sendak appreciates. Since the book only has 10 lines of text, it’s a given that the script couldn’t remain faithful–but in another director’s hands it could also have careened into unfitting shallowness. Spike Jonze and his co-script writer Dave Eggers didn’t let that happen. They did Sendak’s genius justice.
And a final thought — my biggest takeaway from the movie is that I can’t recall seeing a more powerfully rendered artistic vision of the pain, joy, anger, desire, insecurity, impulsiveness and overall restlessness of childhood. If you’re ok with my caveats above about entertainment value–see this movie. It’s not going to give you an endorphin rush, but it may leave you with something much more valuable.