Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
directed by Spike Jonze
The Wild Things can be seen as metaphors for Max’s emotions, or his family members, or both. I like the analog to very conflicting, yet very realistic viewpoints most. “It’s hard being a family,” one of the Things innocently remarks.
Ultimately though Where the Wild Things Are didn’t do a lot for me, as an adult. The film is best at the beginning, before Max even steps foot on the island. Here it is a genuinely moving meditation on childhood, reminding us that being a kid is pretty awkward and lonely. There is a particularly beautiful moment that captures Max as he, eyes glossy and altogether somewhere else, cascades a toy boat over his sea-blue bed spread.
I was afraid that what I loved about Spike Jonze’s previous films were Charlie Kaufman’s genius screenplays, but I can see now that the man has a talent and an eye for showing things we all understand and feel, but rarely solidify or are even aware of. In this film he has such a grasp on the mind and experience of a child, and I think this is a great one for children to see. Its themes and situations will feel dark, but that’s only because of the general schlock that is deemed worthy for up and coming generations. Compared to most kids’ films, Where the Wild Things Are is master class.
There is some silliness and perhaps uselessness in adapting a nine sentence picture book into a feature-length film, but the expansion from rise and fall of temper tantrum to an observation on family dynamics and conflict is a worthwhile one.