We just got back from seeing “Where the Wild Things Are” and the movie totally did the book justice!! I was hesitant about taking Ella since she is terrified of all of the Halloween decorations in stores, so we watched the trailer all week to prepare her for the movie. I wasn’t going to take her if she showed any signs of being scared of the Wild Things, aka: “the friendly monsters.” Luckily we made it through the whole movie without her covering her eyes! So parents, if you are worried about the movie being scary- rest assure it’s harmless. “Coraline” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” are much scarier. There are a few intense scenes that could freak out older children who are more aware of what is going on, but nothing that will scar your child. I just hope Ella doesn’t try barking or chasing our dogs around!
The movie is really for adults. I’m not sure how a younger, even older child, would understand the complex themes or bigger picture. But the movie is visually stimulating enough to captivate their young minds. I was really curious to see how “Where the Wild Things Are” would expand the book. I wasn’t disappointed at all! The Wild Things are really brought to life by becoming complex characters and the island is breathtaking. The movie is at times a tad bit dark, much like the book, but the vivid tones and beautiful imagery make it a wonderful journey through a child’s imagination. My theory is that each Wild Thing, except KW, represents a part of Max’s personality and he’s trying to figure out his place in this world- the island.
Max is a lonely, highly imaginative 9 year old boy with no friends. His older sister, Claire, won’t give him the time of day. One snowy afternoon, Claire’s friends were picking on Max and she didn’t stick up for him. This sparked a lot of hurt, anger and resentment from Max which made him feel even more alone. Later that night, Max’s mom brought home a man she was dating and ignores Max when he is begging for attention. Max then slips into his wolf character and throws a beastly tantrum on the kitchen counter. After the new boyfriend tries to step in, Max spirals out of control, bites his mom, and then runs away to the island where the Wild Things are.
When Max gets to the island, all of the Wild Things are in turmoil wanting to find a way to be closer to one another. Carol, the main Wild Thing, is destroying huts when Max stumbles upon the creatures. Max identifies with Carol’s anger and begins helping him tear down the huts. The other Wild Things are upset that Max is indulging in Carol’s wrath and threaten to eat Max- because that’s what beasts do! To deter the Wild Things, Max comes up with an elaborate story about how he slayed vikings and served as a King for 20 years. The Wild Things, impressed by the viking slayer, crowned him King after his promise to build a village where everything they want to happen, would happen. And they would all sleep together in a pile.
Max’s journey on the island continues as they build their village and play together, all the while ignoring their underlying issues. Of course all good things come to an end and when the novelty wears off things start to go back to the way they were. Carol’s beastly temper starts to show and begins to terrify Max. Carol has some sort of “family” drama with KW- but that whole story isn’t fully told. That’s why I believe KW represents Claire and not one of Max’s personalities. After one of Carol’s rages, Max runs and hides in the mouth of KW. They begin to talk about Carol and Max then realizes why Carol is the way that he is. Max then abruptly decides to leave the island. This happened really fast and I wish it was drawn out a little bit more. I thought I missed something during the movie about his decision to leave because it just happened. Then Max makes his journey back home to his mother’s arms.
The movie trailer is pretty much the whole movie summed up in 3 minutes. Though, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it in full detail and applaud Spike Jonze for bringing one of my favorite books to life. For children, they will laugh at the Wild Things romping around and enjoy the stunning visuals. But this movie is really a journey into a child’s imagination bringing adults back to their youth.