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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review: Where The Wild Things Are (PG) ★★★
An adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's story, where Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, creates his own world--a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler

I went into Where The Wild Things Are not having read any of the source material but being drawn to the movie because of Spike Jonze. Although the film recognizes alot of what it was like to be young and there is plenty to enjoy about it there was one fundamental flaw that irked me throughout. Max.

The film starts by showing Max playing by himself in the snow, when he goes to his older sister to ask her something she ignores him. add to this a single mother who is working hard to keep a roof over her familys head and its immediately apparent that Max is a loner without any real friends and to try and block out the real world retreats into his own. This sets the foundations of what is to come and leaves you in no doubt about the 'real worldliness' the film is set in.

Now what should happen during this time is that you start to feel for Max and garner a relation to his loneliness so you can empathise with him. The problem is though is that Max is annoying and I started to detach from this relationship almost immediately. Was this my fault because I'm older now and as a parent see such acts of misbehaviour as unacceptable? Quite possibly or maybe its a clever trick by the film-makers to deliberately try and alienate the adult, parental audience and connect more to the kids. If so its a brave move and one the quite possible does pay off.

After one act of misbehaviour that has Max jumping on the dinner table yelling at his mother to feed him, he runs off into the woods, finds a boat and sets sale across the ocean where he comes across an island and meets the wild things. From the pictures I've seen from the book the wild things are spot on. Carol, Alexander, Judith, Ira, Dougals, KW and The Bull, all with there own personalties and very articulate interactive with Max and crown him King of the Island based on his wild tales of victory over the Vikings and his wizardry.

This however raises a fundamental question that is never really answered in the film in that, does it send a message stating you have to create fantastical lies about yourself to become popular? Its covered briefly later on in the film but quickly swept under the carpet and never spoken of again which I though was a little strange. 
As Max grows closer to the gang, especially Carol which sends out messages of a missing father figure in Max's life, they embark on creating the ultimate fortress and playing war, again another message of missing friends possibly?

The middle part of the film is the most magical of all, the creating of the fortress, the playing of games and having run of an entire island without any rules are the dreams of every young girl and boy and the way its portrayed is cleverly done.

The film attaches itself to youth throughout and never lets go, even the tearful goodbye ending (which you know is coming throughout) remains in childhood territory. Where The Wild Things Are is a good film but the most frighting thing of all is that it will make you really feel like an adult in instead of the child we all still long to be.


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