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Kids & Family movie directed by Spike Jonze

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Not Sendak's "wild things", but Spike Jonze's.

  • Jun 26, 2011
***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 Things Are" helped me to realize that Mr. Jonze might just be something more than simply a filmmaker.

We all know the popular children's story book of the same name. It was short, sweet, and to the point. It was 48 pages long, with only a handful of words. The illustrations helped tell half of the story, which was what made it so accessible and charming to both young and old audiences alike. I was first told this wonderful story when I was about...I'd say three years of age. And it was a whimsical journey just reading those 48 short, very easy pages with my parents. And now, there is a movie that has been made about one of my favorite childhood books.

Anyone who was exposed to Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" as a young child will connect quite well with Spike Jonze's screen adaptation. It was an impossible task, but Jonze didn't care. He has made a film out of "Where the Wild Things Are" that takes bold risks. It is not for children, it is strictly for those who are either in touch with their memories of the book, or in touch with their own emotions. It worked like a charm for this movie-goer.

The film introduces us to eccentric little boy Max (Max Records), who lives with his mother and sister in a suburban home, which he often runs around in, chasing his dog in a wolf costume (yes, the same one he donned in the book). Max often feels ignored by his mother (Catherine Keener), who has a boyfriend that Max does not completely approve of. And Max's just another sister, an older one, which means that she could care less about Max's loneliness.

One night, things go out of control, and Max runs away into the night. He hides, and envisions that he is going on a fantastical adventure by boat. His boat takes him across the sea, to a land where there are giant furry beasts. The beasts seem dangerous, initially, but when Max informs them of his fictional occupation(s) as a "king", they think twice before feasting upon him.

The Wild Things, which is what we call the beings that live on the island, are characters of their own. There's Carol (James Gandolfini), Ira (Forest Whitaker), Judith (Catherine O'Hara), Douglas (Chris Cooper), Alexander (Paul Dano), and K.W. (Lauren Ambrose). And then there's The Bull, who's a loner throughout the film, up until the end, where the great beast speaks. So now with all the characters properly introduced, I suppose there is nothing more for me to do than to tell you more about the story. So that I don't spoil too much, I'll be vague; Max and the Wild Things have many adventures. They build a huge fort, which is something that Max is always willing to do. They also have rock/dirt fights, and pile on top of each-other. However, Jonze doesn't want his Wild Things to be on-dimensional, so he layers them with unexpected complexity, in the way of emotions.

The Wild Things are sometimes very sad, human beings. When they cry, we want to cry too. This will be enough to puzzle any child that is unfortunate enough to see this film at a young age. I do not think that there should be complaints, or even threats regarding the tone of the film. This is an art film; not the Disney movie that the studios might have wanted it to be. I like what Jonze, who co-wrote the film, did to Maurice Sendak's story, and she was reportedly pleased as well. She trusted Jonze to make a spectacular film, and just like that, he has made one. "Where the Wild Things Are" left me with a lot of feelings, but it allowed me to cherish my childhood, as only stories of children and their imaginations can. The best filmmakers, who work with the imagination, never let go of their inner kid; but maybe, in Jonze, Sendak, or anyone's case, this is for the best.

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More Where the Wild Things Are (mov... reviews
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 …
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
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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