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Kids & Family movie directed by Spike Jonze

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Decent film for adults, not a film for children

  • Nov 25, 2009
Pros: Mature storytelling general mood and theme

Cons: If the movie was meant for kids, it fails entirely

The Bottom Line: WTWTA seems to be an indirect poke at adults who liked the book as kids saying this is what things would be like if you held on to childish things.

Max is a child just slightly past the age where living in his imagination isn’t considered weird. Given that he is essentially friendless, he is driven even deeper into that childish landscape. His sister is a teenager in the throes of that moodiness so she ignores him; his mother is a single-mom trying to make a living apparently freelancing. She tries to make time for him, but is not wholly successful. Max spends inordinate amount of time in a fleece wolf/cat outfit and is still fixed in the fort building and floor-made-of-lava stage. He tries to engage his mother in his latest shenanigan, has a massive fight, and runs away. After a few blocks, he runs into an unexpected shore and a boat. This sailboat takes him to an island of moody creatures.

To avoid being eaten, Max convinces the threatening plushies that he is a king with tremendous powers. They seem to like the idea, so the play along. They have one wish, though, they want him to banish sadness. For a while he is able to do this. He gets the group to wrestle and romp and generally breathes something other than melancholy into their days—he seems, in fact, to be the cause of a sadness banishing sunrise.

Max continues this euphoria when he gets the 7 beasts to create the fort of his dreams with secret passages and other like items. However, when things calm down from this distraction, the moodiness returns. How Max handles these situations are what drive the film, so I will go no further.

Ultimately, I wound up liking the movie as I considered ways to review it. I have never read the book, so I cannot compare the film to it, but I can say that the film isn’t for children even if the animals seem to be less antic versions of the hallucinatory H. R. Puffenstuff things.

Where the Wild Things Are is an uncomfortable film to watch. Max (Max Records) is not cute and doesn’t inspire much empathy or even sympathy. He is impulsive and destructive; he is childish entirely, there is no childlike left in him by the time we see him.

The island residents are in desperate need of Zoloft or like substance. Their malaise is driven by a rift between 2 principle characters: the oafish Carol (voice by James Gandolfini) and the sullen and reserved KW (voice by Lauren Ambrose). Max walks into this situation already well begun, so an immature person is now saddled, both by his wishes and theirs, with the responsibility of curing this ingrained personality conflict without the tools to do it.

How this situation plays out is why WTWTA is a good piece of cinema but not really a good movie. I had no idea going in that Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation) directed and co-wrote the film. After seeing that in the credits it made sense. His films are off kilter in a way that requires large amounts of attention not to get lost. This film, though is a bit of a shift. His earlier films relied on absurdity-cum-reality theme. WTWTA instead amplifies the discomfort driven by embarrassment as Max’s events create a new havoc for the island creatures in fits and starts.

The main negative is that Max Records has to carry the entire film. The other human actors have few lines and little room to truly act; the plushies are all animatronic. So there is really no reason to have A- actors in these roles, meaning their talents are essentially wasted.


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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 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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Paul Savage ()
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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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