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Kids & Family movie directed by Spike Jonze

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Wonderful, sad, happy, terrifying, uncertain and joyful... just like being a kid.

  • Mar 27, 2010
Being a child sucks.

As adults we talk about how wonderful childhood was and use phrases like, "In the halcyon days of my youth..." Well, most of us don't use THAT phrase, but you get the idea. We idealize childhood as a time of innocence, delight and joy. We refer nostalgically to our early years as "The best years of my life."

We do this and ignore the reality of childhood. We ignore the memories of terror and sadness, the years spent not really understanding anything about the larger world, the feeling of oppression by adults, by school bullies, by our siblings. We forget the times we felt like the world never understood us and how we'd wished - oh, how we'd hoped - that it would all go away and we'd end up being the long-lost child of someone rich and famous who would take us away from the horrible world we were in and to some greater, more wonderful place.

For most of us the best we could ever do to get that better place was to imagine it. That's what young Max does in this wonderful adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are".

Like most people born after about 1960 or so I read the book when I was a kid, and had a copy of it. I remember reading the heck out of it, and I even remember being excited every year at Christmas when there was a chance (cause it didn't happen every Christmas, just a few), of going to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet do their performance of "The Nutcracker", because it contained sets designed by Sendak.

The movie stretches the original story somewhat (it had to, given that the book was about ten sentences in length), but unlike other movie adaptations of short kids books (most notoriously "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "The Cat in the Hat"), this adaptation succeeds.

The movie tells the story of young Max, a lonely nine-year-old boy with a very active imagination. He's prone to great fits of creativity, occasional bouts of violence and crying for what he knows isn't a good reason. He's at that most awkward of ages: still a child, but he can see puberty coming over the horizon. He's not a little kid anymore, but he's not nearly an adult.

He gets into a fight with his mother one night while wearing a wolf costume. It ends with him biting her shoulder and running into the night. He wanders along through the darkened backways of suburban America and eventually finds a little boat. He gets inside and winds up where the wild things are. He's initially scared of them, but then spins them a tale of great BS and winds up being made their king.

Let the wild rumpus start!

This movie is charming on many levels. Max Records, who plays the main character Max, is thoroughly adorable. The monsters, most notably Carrol and KW, are entertaining and charismatic, particularly Carrol, voiced by James Gandolfini. He really does a great job of reflecting all the insecurity and uncertainty that the character of Max feels.

Visually the movie is wonderful to look at. During one point in the story Max comes up with the idea of building a great big fort for them all to live in, and the end product looks spectacular. And the wild things themselves are a major technological accomplishment. Played by actors in suits with CGI added in, they look and feel real.

The writing is quite sharp, and at no point does this feel like a ten sentence story stretched into 100 minutes. It feels more like it derived organically and is an extension of the original story rather than stuff just added in recently. It works and works well.

Lots of people have said this isn't a movie for kids, and I totally disagree. Really young kids, like four or five years old, they won't likely get it and will be bored and fidgetty. But kids from about eight or so upward should be able to handle it fine.

This is, by the way, the first movie I've ever seen in Blu Ray! It looks great, but since I haven't seen any others, I can't really compare as far as picture quality or anything like that goes. The special features are wonderful fun, particularly the ones show Max Records and his family. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and a good family backing him up. I see good things for him in the future.

Now I just wait to see if they'll try an adaptation of "In the Night Kitchen"...

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More Where the Wild Things Are (mov... reviews
review by . June 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****     Spike Jonze is a whacky guy, with the sort of charm that only a whacky guy can possibly have. Whether the man has made great films or not doesn't matter. What really matters, to me, is whether he can make many. Perhaps he cannot; Jonze has only directed three films, this one included. But each one has been something different; a journey like no other. There is a lot to appreciate when it comes to Spike Jonze and his little movies, although "Where the Wild …
review by . December 12, 2010
Wow. That's all i can say, just wow. This movie is so profoundly horrible that I barely have enough to say about it. But during the process of this review I am going to try. I read the book as a kid, and when I heard a film version of this was going to be made, I was genuinely looking forward to seeing this movie. Ten minutes into the movie, I was profoundly disappointed. Subconsciously, I knew that a 10-page kids book could not stretch into a full-length movie, but I still saw it, and I have …
review by . February 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A parent's biggest disappointment of the year.
   Before I get into the review, I'd like to say that, concerning my headline, I understand that several parents/people took children to see this film, and the children loved it. I myself took an eight-year-old, and she was crying by the end; she thought it was great. There has just been a lot of negative buzz surrounding this movie because many parents took their children to see it expecting a feel-good children's film, and were disappointed. I personally am glad …
Quick Tip by . September 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
such a great cast -- Dave Eggers wrote the screenplay!!! amazing soundtrack...thank you Karen O. but for the most part I was mostly bored while the monsters ran around. A few cute moments with but mostly, only an okay movie.
review by . February 01, 2010
The Wild Ideas That Kids Come Up With MIght Come True Sometimes.
   I know that this movie has been out for a while now but I like waiting to use my five buck card to go and see the show that way if I am disappointed I am not out that much money. So I decided to surprise my daught4er with an afternoon at the show. I have seen a lot of ads showing this movie and I thought what could be the harm of a little boy using his imagination to get away from the stress of daily life of a child.       I have heard that the book was a very short …
review by . March 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I think there's a lot to be said for this movie. The monsters and setting are realistic yet have an air of fantasy about them. The story is subtle in its exploration of growing up and family politics. While kids might see it as a jaunt through a fantasy with monsters, adults will recognize personal foibles they will likely have encountered at home or in the office.    Unfortunately, the movie is marred by a few bad decisions. First off, the kid Max (Max Records) is just way too …
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Little kid with bad attitude, a mother who is too nice. The kid needs a spanking and some serious grounding. I liked the movie for the first 10 minutes and thought it really depicted the happy/sad moods of child, but left the theater halfway into the film. It is simply irritating.
Quick Tip by . July 07, 2010
One of my favorite movies of all time. It is beautiful and moving.
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
adorable for children and adults alike
review by . March 13, 2010
Visionary, this is beautiful. The monsters are real-looking and the scenery is lovely. The story is very similar to the book, which I was never into, but it is an accurate transition from book to film. It follows a rowdy little boy who is wild and bites as he runs away and stumbles onto the Wild Things. He becomes their king and leads them in the ways of the wild. The story is very loose, no real plot, other than the lesson the boy learns that you cannot get by on being wild. My 10 year old enjoyed …
About the reviewer
C R Swanson ()
   I'm an aspiring writer and reviewer. I run a blog, I'm working on a novel and spend my free time reading and playing video games. I also spend waaaaay too much time and money on movies. … more
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About this movie


Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 American fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Spike Jonze and adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It combines live action, performers in costumes, animatronics, and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The film stars Max Records, Catherine Keener and Mark Ruffalo, and features the voices of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose and Forest Whitaker. The film centers around a lonely 9-year-old boy named Max (Records) who sails away to an island inhabited by creatures known as the "wild things," who declare Max their king.

In the early 1980s Disney considered adapting the film as a blend of traditionally animated characters and computer-generated settings, but development did not go past a test film to see how the animation hybridizing would work out. In 2001, Universal Studios acquired rights to the book's adaptation and initially attempted to develop a computer-animated adaptation with Disney animator Eric Goldberg, but in 2003 the cartoon version was replaced with a live-action concept and Goldberg was dropped for Spike Jonze. The film was co-produced by actor Tom Hanks through his production company Playtone and made on an estimated budget of around $100,000,000.

The film was released on October 16, 2009 in the United States, and on December 11, 2009 in the United Kingdom. The film was met with critical acclaim and appeared on many year-end top ten lists.
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Director: Spike Jonze
Genre: Family
Release Date: October 16, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Spike Jonze
DVD Release Date: March 2, 2010
Runtime: 101 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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