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Review: Where The Wild Things Are

Oct. 13, 2009by: JimmyO

PLOT: Max is a young man who deals with the typical issues that a child goes through in this day and age. His dad is nowhere to be found and his teenage sister is too busy with her friends and has no time for Max. He spends his days imagining wonderful and strange places where he can drift off to. And one day, when he has a particularly rough time while his mother brings a date home, he runs off into the night. Along the way he finds a boat that was made for him, and a vast ocean which he sails across to get to the place where the wild things are.

REVIEW: Spike Jonze WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is brilliant. It is strange, wild, wicked, terrifying it is an absolute classic. I remember growing up with the book by Maurice Sendak, and it having a very warm place in my heart. Even today I remember it. I loved the idea that monsters were just like us, they feel and they are oftentimes misunderstood. And as beautiful as the book is, Jonze managed to take that beauty and create a near flawless piece of fiction that lingers somewhere between reality and the fantastic imagination of childhood. I couldnt have been more pleased with the outcome as it brings out what made the book a classic work of fiction, but it also brings a very emotional and human element to the story of Max and the wild things. This is a movie going experience that should not be missed. Young or old, this is a magnificent motion picture that may well end up being the best film of the year come December.

The story revolves, of course, around Max, a young and lonely boy who is seeking out attention in less than positive ways. It is clear that his mother adores him, but as a single mother, she seems to be struggling with finding a good way to reprimand him. Catherine Keener as mom is simply wonderful here. She is equal parts loving and frustration that just cant seem to get a handle on Max. Having a mean, older sister doesnt seem to help much either. Claire (Papita Emmerichs) is the sister who is trying to walk the line between hanging with her cool friends and showing compassion her bratty little brother. The family dynamic here is a very common one. It is also a brave one. Max Records as Max does some really terrible things, after all, his mother calls him a wild thing. But the beauty of it is that this doesnt seep into overt sweetness and sappy kids flick clich. The reason Max runs off to the place where the wild things are is a seriously emotional moment. The difference between the book and the film is that you might even consider that he really does run off to this magical place. I sort of felt that it was really up to the audience to decide.

So what about this place? The one where the wild things are? Well, it is certainly a beautiful one. It is also a mean and sometimes dark one. When Max first stumbles upon the beasts, they gnashed their terrible teeth and roared their terrible roars and even talked about eating a little boy. The wild things include Carol (James Gandolfini), KW (Lauren Ambrose), Douglas (Chris Cooper), Ira (Forest Whitaker), Judith (Catherine OHara), Alexander (Paul Dano) and The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.). It is almost strange to hear these monstrous, yet surprisingly comforting characters speak is such a humanistic manner. The beasts are skillfully created from the wonderful illustrations created so long ago. In fact, I cant imagine them looking any better than they do here. The way they react with Max is just perfect. The big old monster pile-up is really breathtaking. At once you fear for this child, and the next you just cant help but tear up. Yep, if you break a valve at movies that make you cry, youd better bring a ton of tissue for this one.

Ive mentioned the monsters and the family unit, but I didnt really touch on the boy himself. But I will simply say that Max Record is a revelation. This is an award worthy performance that is loaded in depth and is every bit as powerful as any other great performance Ive seen recently. One particular moment happens right after poor Max snow hut is destroyed. I dare you not to feel utter sadness, no matter how wild of a child he is. His performance goes from petulant youth to a child wise beyond his years. His connection to Carol and KW is perfect and credit must be given to this incredibly talented young man. This is tremendous work and I have little doubt that he could parlay this talent well into his adult years.

Spike Jonze really created a visual feast that manages to tell a very solid, yet simple story. His use of image and music is incredibly skilled. While you might be thrown off early on as Karen O and the Kids blares along with this wild child rampaging through the house, you quickly fall for it. Ms. O (from The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs) lends a uniqueness to the soundtrack. It is playful and exuberant fun and it truly embodies the visual treat that Spike serves up. The funny thing about this review is, that rarely do I find the need to use this many big words describing how great a film is, but I couldnt help it with WTWTA. It truly is a magical, mystical and even scary world that is sometimes very dark, but it also offers a ray of hope that, while not necessarily promised, it is certainly reminding us that sometimes the most important things in our lives are right there in front of us. My rating 10/10 -- JimmyO

Source: JoBlo.com

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