I went to see Where the Wild Things Are on Saturday, but it was sold out. Ay-ay-ay. That was a surprise! I mean, anticipation for this movie seemed pretty high, but anticipation for lots of movies seems high, especially when you spend most of your days following movie anticipation trends on-line. Now, of course, we know that Where the Wild Things Are was the number one movie in the country, and it earned a WILD (sorry) $32.5 million. That is so many million! But we didn’t know that back then when we were like, “Sold out? That is not very enchanting.” So I went to the movie on Sunday instead. They had added a second, simultaneous screening, and both of them were packed. But packed with whom? There were certainly plenty of children with their parents in my theater, but there were also plenty of man-children, if you know what I mean. The dude sitting to my left was in his mid-30s, and he was alone. The young couple sitting next to me pulled books out to read before the movie started, and she was reading Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit. Of course she was! This movie was really hitting on all cylinders, if there are only two cylinders, and they are children and over-educated upper-middle-class white people in their late 20s-mid-30s.

Also, security was super tight? Like, they wouldn’t let me into the theater at all because I had a banana in my bag, which I had to eat in a fury, like some kind of forest creature, cowering in the corner next to the garbage can. And then when I got to my particular screening the security guard hassled me about my ticket stub? And actually made a call to the head of security on his walkie-talkie before letting me into the movie? We’re still talking about a movie written by Dave Eggers based on a children’s book published 43 years ago, right?

Yes. We are. So let’s talk about it!

Aesthetically, Where the Wild Things Are is very beautiful. That is just a fact. Which makes sense. Not only was Spike Jonze working with his long-time cinematographer Lance Acord, who is great at being a cinematographer, but Spike Jonze developed his sensibility (and his career) in music videos and advertisements (duh, we know, but let’s back up our theories!) which are both pure aesthetics. There is even a word for what Spike Jonze is: an aesthete. He loves pretty pictures and capturing “special moments.” And he does that pretty well. Despite the mixed reviews this movie has been receiving, everyone seems to be pretty much in agreement that this is a pretty movie, and it has some very memorable images. Max in his igloo. Max and Carol walking across the desert. Max running towards the fort. The Wild Things on the beach.

But this movie isn’t just an aesthetic exercise. It’s an adaptation of a beloved children’s book that means a lot to many many people. So how did that work out? Personally, I thought that it worked out so-so! I liked the meandering non-plot, and the speed with which it set up Max and with which it concluded. Let us not waste time on things that are not relevant. But I did not like Max Records that much. No offense to him, he is only a child, but he seemed less like an actual child, and more like the physical embodiment of Spike Jonze’s and Dave Egger’s obsession with the perpetuation of childhood. Like, he couldn’t just be a kid, he had to be the most clever and imaginative kid. The simple fact of his journey to the Land of the Wild Things makes him a dreamer, but the movie works very hard from the beginning to point out that this kid is a Serious, Advanced Degree dreamer. Not just your average dreamer! Which actually kind of takes some of the pleasure of his journey away from the audience, because it’s no longer “our” adventure as people who remember or are just now experiencing what it is like for a child to bump up against the world, it is Max Records’s adventure and we just get to watch. This is the type of movie that one could, theoretically, leave the movie flush with the thrill of a shared experience, but this didn’t feel shared. It felt presented.

And while we’re on the subject of Max, um, there is far less whimsy and unbridled youthful energy when the boy has actual rage issues. He travels to the Land of the Wild Things not because he is alone in his room with nothing but his imagination, but because he straight up BIT HIS MOM. That’s genuinely not OK to do. But he is our hero now? I am on the side of a boy with deep behavioral problems? If the Wild Things are an extension of is psychology, and they are, then the Wild Things are disconcertingly violent, and they need to visit a therapist maybe. They punch each other and rip each others’ arms off and throw each other through buildings and step on each others’ faces. Max’s idea of a way to cheer everyone up and bring them back together is to have a dirt clod fight where they hit each other expressly in the head, and/or knock each others’ legs out from under them. Yikes. Good thinking, Max.

That being said, I think that this is a movie that will be better in retrospect. I was having trouble not falling asleep about three-quarters of the way through, and I left the movie feeling kind of blah about it. But I like it more today? Like, I enjoy the memory of seeing it more than I enjoyed the actual watching it. Which is kind of poetic (these guys know what I’m talking about). You know, because of the golden nostalgia that infects adults when they think about childhood, which in reality was terrifying and lonely and kind of entirely miserable.

Oh, also, people keep saying that this is not a movie for kids, but I don’t know why they keep saying that. Sure, the movie has a lot of screaming in it, and it is kind of dark, and there are a lot of disappointed and angry monsters in it, and disappointed and angry monsters can be scary. But it seems to me that Maurice Sendak’s work is all about children confronting a terrifying and confusing world and being more than capable of handling it. Despite early reports that children left test screenings in shrieking, crying droves, that did not happen in my theater. And I have yet to actually hear anyone relate a genuine child’s perspective on the movie. I would be curious! I really do not know whether or not children would like this movie, but it certainly seemed like it was “for children,” in its way.

Any nine-year-olds out there care to comment?

Comments (122)
  1. My favorite scene is when Max is convincing them he?s a king and goes into all the business about Vikings. So many great lines there: Max?s enormous powers, keeping out the sadness with sadness shields, the bit about the ?recracker,? and so forth. But my favorite line was Judith?s: ?Happiness isn?t always the best way to be happy.? Haha.

    • After the bit about keeping out sadness with sadness shields, I was expecting to see an ironic drawing of a stapler appear on screen.

    • Lyle  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +4

      My favorite scene was the opening one, with Max chasing the dog with the fork. I thought the movie was going to be much darker with that kind of frenzy to start the flick.

  2. I found it kind of terrifying. Watching all the emotionally out of control monsters/child reminded what it was like to be emotionally out of control. It is like scary and humbling and exhausting! That’s what it is like! So, good job everyone. You scared an adult with big furry monsters and their tantrums.

  3. Poor Douglas, but when they showed him with that pathetic stick as his arm I LOL’d.

  4. First off: The line “I’ll eat you up, I love you so” set me off into being Sobby McSobberson, and I was still Sobby McSobberson 30 minutes after we left the theatre.
    Second: I think that Max is the most accurate representation of a kid that I’ve seen in any movie. Ever. Everything that kid said and did was totally believable. It’s like Spike Jonze took him aside and said, “do whatever you want.” I look at Disney’s kiddie movies and see a 10 year old being a total dick and saying really staged sounding “AWESOME!”s every few minutes. Essentially, what I’m saying is that I don’t feel like kids in Hot Wheels commercials are actually what a kid is like. Or maybe it’s just because I grew up lonely and weird, so I relate to Max more. But this isn’t sadpersonalhistorygum, so I guess my final point is that this wasn’t so much a good kid’s movie as the perfect movie about being a kid.

    • Oh my god, when I heard KW say that line I lost it, man. Really, I cried during a great portion of this movie, right from when Max got his snow fort stomped in.

      Leaving the theater, I felt this unstoppable urge to play. My friends and I just started running, sprinting around a downtown shopping pavillion, playing on the escalators. I stole my friend’s shoe and she chased me. I jumped into puddles. We listened to the Ronettes on the drive home and I stuck my head out the window like a dog. We didn’t say anything.

      I’m 20 years old, and I am not ashamed to say this movie moved me to these levels. Not even because of the movie perhaps, but because of what it represented, what it presented, and how it evoked these murky, abstracted personal memories, both good and bad. The movie didn’t create these feelings in me, but reawakened them. And I’m always going to be grateful for that.

      • Between Carol showing Max his secret mountain creation and the plot to build the fort, I desperately needed to pee and…I 100% caught myself skipping and jumping down the stairs in the theater.

      • I cried like a baby during the scene where Carol was running to the beach to say good-bye to Max. Even my girlfriend cried and she doesn’t cry at anything hardly. She didn’t even cry at Up.

        After the movie I felt about 3 years younger (I’m 19) and we drove around the city listening to the soundtrack (it’s really good). It was also the first cold front of the year in Florida so I really wanted to go play in some leaves, but we didn’t have any.

      • If you buy bigger pants you will cry less at movies.

    • i started crying when Max was inside of KW while she was talking to Carol, something about that scene brought me back hard . . .

      also i was on the verge just about every time Carol had a breakdown . . . also “it’s gonna be a place where only the things you want to happen will happen.” . . .

      in terms of overall opinion of the movie, i thought it was a gorgeous and straightforward interpretation of a gorgeous and straightforward storybook, and i thought Max was a very believable child, i never bit my mom, but i definitely had my fair share of rage-outs as a kiddie and took to my imagination/ the throwing of things all to quickly as a means of escape. . . i was pleasantly surprised that the monsters weren’t wizened old beasts . . . and i laughed hysterically at the “knock knock” joke

  5. I left the theater kind of blah too, but mostly because I ate too much popcorn. The small was actually quite large!

  6. Did this film remind anyone else how fucking awesome it was to be a kid? Like, it needed to make the extra effort to make Max the Dean of Dreams University just to remind all the adults (ridiculous adults) how amazing it was making shit up to amuse yourself.

  7. I also felt kind of so-so about it immediately after but had it grow on me the more I thought about it. Also, having been a nanny for almost 10 years I did not find Max to be disproportionately violent or angry considering his life/surrounds. Also, his imagination & way of speaking all rang very true to me. The bits about Max & Carol fearing the Sun dying were particularly great.

    Basically the movie was a longform version of what goes on in a 9-year-old’s head when they play pretend, and it was absolutely spot on in that respect. There are way too many kid’s movies that portray childhood as Shiny Fun Cupcake Times when in reality it is much more uneasy, dark and intense. Especially in these mixed up modern times, what with kid’s having Mark Ruffalo as their future Stepdad and all.

  8. I probably won’t be able to see it until this upcoming weekend.

    Don’t spoil it, I haven’t finished the book yet!

  9. rat  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 -28

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  10. The most disturbing thing about the movie was when Max jumped up on the table and screamed “Feed me, woman!” to his mother. It reminded me so much of my brother. I think Spike did a relatively good job at representing today’s youth.

  11. fafs  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +2

    I went home and turned my bedroom into a fort.

  12. This does not happen often, but I disagree with most of Gabe’s comments. This may have to do with a) children leaving my theatre screaming and crying, and b) my coming into the movie without a real emotional attachment to the ten sentence source material. I do agree that it was a beautifully shot film. But I disagree in that I thought they did an excellent job making Max a believable child character. He did and said things a child would do. Frustrated? Have a score to settle? Have a mud clod fight where in you pick good guys and bad guys with your friends populating the “good guy” side. That’s just what kids do. In doing that, they made this an enjoyable experience for adults looking to pick apart the psychological aspects of what was a very nuanced and non-traditional plot. Even if kids don?t get scared by the physical appearance of the monsters, I doubt they will know how to handle the emotional aspect, which will either freak them out or go over their head and ultimately bore them. I doubted Jonze and Eggers would be able to make a kids movie, but they did?they just made one for adults.

  13. I loved this movie so much. Many tears were shed blah blah blah. But apart from the nostalgia and prettiness of the movie I thought it was really well developed.
    For example, the whole KW having new friends and Carol being jealous mirroring Max’s issues with his teen sister (yes I write for Duh Aficionado magazine) or how he begins to understand how hard it is to be an adult (especially a single mom) when the Wild Things ask how they’re supposed to be happy when they’re fighting all the time even though Max is doing his best. It was just so sad/cute/great/Eggersish.
    So there’s an excerpt from my WTWTA thesis.

  14. This movie wasn’t a kids movie. Its like when you are watching a show with very unorthodox comedy like Human Giant or Tim and Eric. The joke is really more a joke about a joke. If you haven’t heard the more conventional joke that is being satirized yet, you aren’t going to get the new joke. This movie was the same thing. As a child I wouldn’t have teared up when Max was telling his mom that story while she was working because it would have just been a regular occurrence. As an adult I see that scene and think back to sitting on my mom’s feet as she used the computer, or walking circles around the kitchen table with one shoe on and telling my mom about my day. It reminded me of how much I love my mother and how much I miss my family. It reminded me of how I want to return to the ones who love me most of all. As a child, I would have had no perspective and it would not have affected me.

    • this comment is perhaps more poignant than I found the movie to be as I watched it, but now I’m thinking back and there were definitely “moments” (that’s what jonze does best, right gabe?) like that all throughout the movie. I was not disappointed by the film, but it certainly didn’t have some of the qualities I expected. it is what it is, however, and I accept it on its own terms. I’m going to keep the wheels turning, though, because I think it has more to offer beneath the surface.

  15. I loved this movie so much. Many tears were shed blah blah blah. But apart from the nostalgia and prettiness of the movie I thought it was really well developed.
    For example, the whole KW having new friends and Carol being jealous mirroring Max’s issues with his teen sister (yes I write for Duh Aficionado magazine) or how he begins to understand how hard it is to be an adult (especially a single mom) when the Wild Things ask how they’re supposed to be happy when they’re fighting all the time even though Max is doing his best. It was just so sad/cute/great/Eggersish.
    So there’s an excerpt from my WTWTA thesis.

  16. Max is basically a Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master.

  17. About halfway through the movie I was feeling kinda blah, but then the ending came and sold me. Lots of Love!

  18. Max was not a monster and just because he bit his mom, that doesn’t mean he is violent. Instead, he is a normal 9 year old boy who doesn’t yet know how to appropriately express his feelings, and anger is indeed the easiest to express. Unfortunately, though, children do not often know how to properly express such anger, so they “act out.” All he wanted was some attention from his mother and sister. He felt invisible, unloved, and so he acted out. I don’t think it’s fair to judge a 9 year old child’s emotivity on an adult scale. And, yes, I was a psych major. And, yes, this was JUST a movie.

  19. jps3  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 -7

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  20. Not to get all Glenn Beck, who’s probably still crying about Coke and Kodak commercials, but this movie took me back to when times were simpler…with clods of dirt. And when Carol ran into the water and howled at Max, well, I completely lost the fight I was having with the lump in my throat that had been growing since the first scene.
    And Kudos to Karen O. That soundtrack really enhanced a lot of those scenes.

  21. Joe  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +7

    I don’t know – I like that they made Max a potentially disturbed kid; would you have prefered that he remain innocuous and polite throughout a movie about being WILD? He can’t be so disturbed that you think he’s going to shoot-up-a-school, but he can’t be so demure that the movie becomes about “finding his inner wild thing” (puke, barf). I actually think they did a great job of balancing those two extremes.

    What I had trouble with was the monsters themselves – who increasingly became less and less monster-ish and more and more human-ish as the move progressed. They have weird, ambiguous relationships with one another; they are all kind of whiny and self-loathing and continually grasp at some sort of existential fulfillment that seems just out of their reach. Heck, Max even makes these “Wild Things” into manual laborers — how wild and unhinged is that? By the end of the movie, I expected one of them to come to Max complaining of feelings of sexual inadequacy. If this was all deliberate – that the “danger” presented by this “wild”world is that it eventually retreats into some sort of mundane adulthood land – then it needed to be emphasized a bit more. It didn’t feel deliberate; it just felt like Eggers forgot he was writing about a kid’s imagination-projections and about monsters – and not about dissatisfied Brooklynites stuck in caustic relationships.

    • I don’t know, I think it was plenty deliberate if you assume that Max can only project emotional response appropriate for his age onto the wild things. I think he immediately finds the wild things as equals, not the dream version of adults in his life.
      To Max, the role of an adult is to exert control, right? He forgets the other parts of his mom when he’s angry. He forgets that he wants her love. Take Mark Ruffalo’s character trying to tell Mom what to do. Rude! Adults are the worst! On the Wild Things island, Max’s ideal is realized (no rules! no adults!). Of course the growth occurs when he finds out that being wild is not the ideal. I think Eggars (and the amazing voice cast) was right to go childish. I don’t think they were trying for maturity in the wild things.

      • Joe  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +2

        Really good point – but I saw it a bit differently. Take the iconic scene when Carol is carrying Max through the woods and says, “I didn’t want to wake you up…” That is a MOM thing to do! You don’t fucking pick up a king like a baby while he’s sleeping and carry him around ! At the end of the movie, when Carol starts howling – I thought, “really?” He’s just spent the better part of Max’s reign under his employ, working like a construction worker and mired in messy personal relationships; he doesn’t seem wild – he seems tamed, adult, defeated, haunted by abstract sadness and a cloying sense of defeat. This is like John Updike’s take on Where the Wild Things Are.

        To me, the movie seemed to be saying that adulthood was not the ideal; go back to being a kid, it’s better, less complicated. But this seems contradictory – given the opening sequences which do a great job of showing the loneliness and struggles of childhood. I felt the movie got so tangled up in itself that I didn’t really know what it was trying to do. I think it definitely starts as you described (monsters as wild/equals, no rules! no adults!) — but then it gets away from that; the monsters become more adult-like, Max starts ordering people around, the “danger”/temptation of the fantasy-other-world isn’t immediate or horrifying like in some fairy tales — but, well, more like an adult disatisfaction, the futility of human endeavors to really change anything for the better, a “quiet despair.” Again, that’s fine if that’s what Eggers is trying to convey; but for me, it just felt unplanned and confused, or maybe not emphasized in the best way.

        • That makes sense. It worked for me. About the time I wanted to get back to reality (uncomfortable with the chaos of the Wild Things’ world) I think Max did too.

  22. I haven’t talked to a single kid yet who has been bored by this movie. Scared yes, but most kids like to be scared, or facing scary things on their own terms. The kinds of kids movies I was subjected to growing up were way scarier then Wild Things, so why do so many film studios feel they have to censor the scary out of movies for kids these days? (deciding to replace frightful scenes with sexual innuendo to make their parents laugh, but I digress)

    I’m happy to see so many little kids enjoying something that brought me a lot of joy growing up, and that it doesn’t stray from the core of the story itself. Although the plot is expanded, they haven’t compromised what it’s all about. Oh, plus it’s freakin gorgeous!

  23. I went home and turned my bed into a fart. And had all the best dreams. 1) smoked weed with my parents 2) hid a dead body with no arms under the couch

  24. Went with my wife, a friend and her cousin. We were all fighting off tears at the end and the movie stuck around in our minds. We ended up seeing each other later in the day and talking about what an effect it had on us. That to me equals good film making. Best part: all the kids in the theater howling after Max leaves the Wild Things. So good.

    • All the kids howled along? That’s the sweetest thing!
      There’s something in my eye now dammit.

    • Dr. J  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +18

      For the record, I caught a 4pm screening chock-full of kids, and the same thing happened. A chorus of howling, standing in their seats and shit. It was the best thing that’s ever happened.

    • I’m really jealous of you guys for having actual living, breathing children at your showing. There was literally one child at my packed theater and it was actually a baby and it actually cried the entire time. Yes, “it.”

  25. Was that a banana in your bag or were you just happen to see this movie? (I didn’t see this movie.)

  26. What I took away from it is that people look for one thing (in this case a king) that can make us happy no matter what. But in the end, no one thing can make interpersonal relationships easy and free of any tension. In fact, the search itself tends to make the characters miserable. They’re ignoring the fact that their actions are making them miserable because, hey, they’ll find something to make it all alright anyway, so feel free to act however you want. Maybe by going back to his mom, it was saying that we keep trying these insane plots to make us happy, but all we need is to be near someone we love, no matter how complicated our relationship to them is.

    Also, I cried when the bull asked if Max would say nice things about them.

    • In that same vein, the movie’s tagline maybe should’ve been, “Just remember: There is no God.” King=god and all that. Which I personally think is a necessary message to get out to the children.

  27. Those owls made me so happy. That they used animatronic puppets without CG took me right back to those Jim Henson puppets from the 80s. Plus they didn’t speak a recognizable language and the interrupting cow joke. Bob & Terry were one of the best parts of the movie. I expected them to be 2 other monsters and was looking forward to what they’d look like but the owl idea is so much better. That’s exactly how a kid would interpret that situation.

    Again, the igloo scene. I teared up at seeing Max upset. Who hasn’t had that experience as a kid when you’re playing and then something goes horribly wrong. It wasn’t a kid scrunching up his face pretending to cry, he was genuinely upset. Max Records was entirely believable as a real kid.
    And of course when they’re on the beach and Carol starts howling. Loved it. I realize this isn’t at all a critical look at the film, I just enjoy talking about those great scenes.

  28. I don’t get the assertion that it’s not a movie for kids. Any kids who left the theater crying are pussified! No, but really–just because the humor was adult and some parts were dark, I can’t imagine kids wouldn’t find this movie visually amazing. For example, the wolf in Neverending Story scared the shit out of me, but it didn’t stop me from loving everything about that movie–it was like nothing I had seen and I imagine WTWTA will be like that for this generation. Sometimes kids like to be a little scared.

    While I did find the portrayal of the violence of childhood disturbing, some scenes really touched me. This is probably Eggers’s doing–the scene where Max is tugging at his mom’s stockings on her feet was sort of amazing. When he tells her the story and she types it, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the scene. This may be because I have a dead mom but I thought those moments were very well done and unlike a lot of portrayals of mother-child relationships in movies.

    And Lauren Ambrose has just about the most comforting voice I’ve ever heard in my life. READ ME BEDTIME STORIES PLEASE.

    • It really surprised me how awesome she was for that character. Usually I hate it when animated movies get celebrities to do the voices when there are qualified voice actors who could do a better job but I thought every one of the actors they chose was excellent.

    • “If I’m going to die anyway then I want to die fighting. Come for me G’morck, I am Atreyu!”
      - Kids movie

      Kids can handle scary.
      (And can I just say, WOW that line inspired me to fear nothing (groan) growing up. “This is Sparta” has nothing on that!)

    • Joe  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +4

      Also – pretty much every kids movie of the last 10 years has a heavy CGI or animation gloss to it. Imagine being a kid, seeing a movie like this WITHOUT the context of movies like Never Ending Story or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — it would blow your mind. And, yes, probably seem much more vivid and real than what you’re used to, potentially scaring the poop out of your pants.

  29. i definitely bit a person or two during the course of my childhood. i dont think it made me emotionally disturbed. but it did make my neighbor think twice about calling me a booger over and over again. that said, i have no attention span, and spent a good chunk of this film making fart noises when characters stared at each other. if anybody needs me ill be watching hes just not that into you on dvd and thinking about how terrible scarlett johansons hair looked in that movie. isnt one of the major perks of being a movie star that you get a team of people dedicated to making your hair look awesome?

    did being a biter lead me to become an adult with terrible taste in movies?

  30. I liked it a lot and I didn’t like it a lot. As said, it was a beautiful movie – a feast for the eyes. But it was also slow moving and a bit depressing. I thought Max was wonderful – he seemed to be a very realistic child to me. I especially loved the scene where he loses it on Judith. But the Wild Things, though clear representations of human emotions, weren’t quite as wild or as grand as I imagined them to be.
    I thought the movie would be deep, but also sort of light-hearted and fun. Instead, it was just – deep?

    • That’s the exact same reaction I had. I feel like I would have enjoyed it more had I mentally prepared for depressed monsters with tons of issues. Instead, parts of the movie were kind of painful to watch. Half of the people I went with just plain hated it. I’m still unsure how I feel overall. I loved Max though, he was perfect.

  31. Young kids were most definitely crying during the scene where Max is in the rough water coming to shore. Also, while I did really love most everything about the movie, I thought it kind of strange that the whole adventure didn’t take place from Max’s room as it does in the book. Its a minor plot point, but since it is actually in the book, I feel like its significant and shouldn’t have been changed.

    • matt   |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +3

      I noticed that too, and at first it bothered me. The more i think about it though it seems appropriate. They never actually say that the island he travels to is in his imagination, and while it would have been nice for them to stay 100% true to the book, their interpretation really blurs the line of what is real and what is imaginary when you are a kid. Also, it could definitely be one of those things that you watch as a kid and go like “oh, he runs away and sails to the land where the wild things are,” and then when you watch it again when you’re older it blows your mind how complex this movie you loved as a kid was/is. It is a kids movie after all….

  32. I wanted to see this SO BADLY this weekend. I even went to visit my friends in the city (my college is in cow country) to see it. But after the Silversun Pickups concert they were too tired to do anything else.

    On the other hand, Brian Aubert shook my hand in the middle of the Lazy Eye guitar solo, so I think it evens out.

  33. D  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +4

    I’m going to go out and buy a raccoon, name him Richard, and keep him for the sole purpose of one day throwing him at someone’s face. He’s on my team now.

  34. I used to babysit my cousin who had the same sort of rage issues. he is now a fairly normal functioning 14 year old (which makes him a different sort of nightmare.) So I do feel like it was a fairly accurate portrayal of a child with some emotional problems dealing with a divorce. blah blah.

    my favorite part was when max was showing them his “powers” and did that totally lackluster pop and lock. and they were all like THAT IS WHAT WE WAITED FOR. I mean I thought the dance was pretty super…

  35. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  36. I loved that one of the monsters had a cat. Oh and I loved everything else too.

    And the other vampires said “Why are you crying? Aren’t those just your baby teeth?” And he said “No they were my grown up teeth” and he knew he couldn’t be a vampire anymore.

  37. James Gandolfini killed it. Great movie that blurs lines for its intended audience, or greatest movie that blurs lines for its intended audience? (sorry Wall-e)

  38. The most shocking part of it was Catherine Keener + Mark Ruffalo. In what indie universe is that logical?
    Also, my mom and I keep saying “double recracker” over and over again and laughing hysterically. That’s exactly how a kid thinks.

  39. When Carol says “…next it’ll turn to dust. I don’t even know what comes after dust.” a kid in my theatre said “air” outloud in the most earnest voice. THAT reminded me that it is a children’s story and made me realise how much i wanted to be that kid.

  40. I loved it as well. WTWTA was one of my favorite books when I was a kid (Duh!) and it was a hour and half of remembering all the bat shit stuff I would think of when I was a kid. I thought Max Records was awesome and my favorite scene was him telling Carol about the Sun dying verbatim like his obviously baked teacher.

    And Gabe, if you want to bring in food, like a banana, into a theater or other venue and they give you crap, just play the Diabetes card. They have to let you bring in something to control your sugar!

  41. RachaelRad  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +8

    I took my nine year old cousin and afterwards everyone was all “Did you love it?!” and he was all “Meh” and the grown-ups were like, “But it was visually stunning!” and he was all, “Oh yeah?” and then they were like, “Spike Jonze is great at making pretty movies don’t you think?!” and he was all, “Who is Jones?” and then finally the grown-ups asked, “How amazing was that music?!” and he said he didn’t remember any of the music.

  42. charles  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +3

    I loved it. That kid was me. What kid doesn’t kinda have anger issues at that age? I thought it did a verrry good job of making us sympathetic to the confusion and loneliness of being a kid, being alienated in certain aspects from your parents and older siblings. I had dirt clod fights and pinecone fights and pretend wars with sticks as guns and treehouses of sticks. His experience with the monsters was every kids dreams realized, then disillusioned, and it was beautiful.

  43. So, I made a mistake by seeing this opening day, then like, an hour later, going to an early screening of Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist”. So I basically had zero time to process WTWTA before I was knee-deep in biblical metaphors and talking foxes (“Chaos Reigns!”) and truly horrifying things happening to naughty bits. I highly suggest we do a Videogum movie club for this one. Or should I say, a Videogum Movie Support Group.

    However, I’ve stepped back far enough to really gather some thoughts on WTWTA, and I must say I agree with Gabe, for the most part. Visually it was beyond stunning, but I was definitely not mentally prepared for the Wild Things to be acting like Woody Allen characters, all neurotic and somewhat unlikeable. I got used to it, but at first it was really jarring. It’s a testament to Jonze and Eggers’ screenplay that I started out feeling weird about the Wild Things, but by the end of the film I was blubbering like a little girl when Max says his goodbyes on the beach. So many tears. All the tears.

    The one thing Gabe and I disagree on is Max Records. I’m sure Gabe was a perfectly well-behaved angel darling from heaven when he was nine years old (back in 1934), but believe it or not, some children have anger issues and act out irrationally. I think there’s a real difference in having a kid who is just plain rotten, and does bad things because he wants to hurt people, and a kid who doesn’t properly know how to control his emotions, and just wants to be loved. Max definitely falls into the latter category.

    For my money, Mr. Records gave in one of the best performances by a child actor since Marcus Carl Franklin as Woody in “I’m Not There”. I found everything he did to be totally believable and honest to what a 9 year old boy would say and do. That story he makes up for his mom about the vampires! Holy shit, I damn near cried me a river during that scene!

    Of course, this is a film about childhood, and everyone’s childhood is different. And furthermore, this is a film about childhood based on a book that almost everyone knows and loves from their childhood. So everyone is going to bring different memories and expectations and baggage to this film. But clearly Jonze was not interested in making a universal statement about childhood. This is a story about Max, not a story about us. Once you get past that, this is a fairly miraculous film.

    Seriously though, “Antichrist” Videogum Movie Club please!!!

  44. At the end when Max returned home and ate dinner with his mother, a small child near me turned to her own mother and said “I love you mommy” in the littlest voice. It was devastating.

    Needless to say, I adored the entire movie/moment/everything.

    • And now I am crying like a small infant child. A little girl (about 8 or 9) sitting next to me with her mom was silently balling when Max said goodbye to the Wild Things. Her mom just kind of cuddled her up. It basically broke my cynical little heart.

  45. I actually watched it with two (2!) 8-year-olds, and when I asked them what they thought about it, they said it was “too depressing.” And then came the nitpicking, about the pictures in the book not being replicated in the movie.
    But they absolutely LOVED that astronaut-alien, The Rock movie.

  46. I saw it with a 3yr old in a nearly empty theater yesterday. His eyes were big as saucers the whole movie – he giggled manically during the rumpus, danced along to the music, and during the one part when I worried he?d be scared he leaned over and earnestly whispered to me ?oooohhhh he?s maaaad, that?s a tantrum? before looking back up at the screen. But my favorite moment was at the end as he (quietly ? he does have some movie manners) howled along with the wild things on the beach.

  47. can i downvote this review?

  48. I saw it with my 10 year old sister on her second viewing, and she said that the second viewing made her love it even more than she already did. I could see how it might be scary for the wee chilluns (especially when the wild things are about to eat max when he first arrives, cause this 23 year old got a little freaked out), but anyone near Movie Max’s age seems to enjoy it quite a bit.

  49. superglue  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 +6

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I did read the Dave Eggers novelization of the screenplay/Sendak book (because I’m an Eggers-head). It was a good book! I’m not sure how much they go into Max’s internal struggles in the film, but in the book, especially in the beginning, Max spends some time thinking about the reasons why he does the things he does and comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t understand his reasoning behind acting out, beyond the fact that it feels right as he’s doing it, like no other options are viable. So mainly Max has a problem with impulse control, but he’s not evil or even intentionally mean; he just doesn’t think about his actions before he does them. He’s nine!

    I liked how Eggers treated Max, though. Max does jerky things, and then after he sees the impact his jerky, impulsive actions have on others – his mother, sister, the Wild Things – he has to accept the responsibility for them. He does go home at the end. Hey guess what, kid? You can’t keep everyone happy all the time and not everyone thinks your great ideas are all that great, but the people who love you will forgive you for maybe not having the best ideas and then we’ll all cry.

  50. I want to be friends with the goat!

  51. As soon as you were introduced to “The Bull”, (you’d think that they would have at least named him considering the rest were, even Alexander who no one listens too) I knew he was going to have some line that would make me completely fall apart and I was so happy when that time came! Personally, I loved it. I felt like I had a chillzz-coat on the entire time.

  52. One boy in my screening – and I traveled to the suburbs expressly to see it in a theater full of children and families rather than teens in Urban Outfitters Where the Wild Things Are crowns – actually howled as Max sailed back home and this same child rushed the screen during the credits in an attempt to embrace the movie (literally, with his arms). He is the best child in the world, obviously, and I think it was a pretty on-point film but I think my opinion is proven by the reaction of said boy.

  53. BradOFarrell  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 -19

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • You remind me of the perpetually bored, rich teenagers the keep me out of movie theatres on weekend evenings. Checking your iPhone during a movie? Massive douche alert.

  54. I loved Roger hanging out in KW’s belly. That was such a great moment of humor to break a very intense scene.

  55. I know that it’s a movie meant for children and has to be short to keep up with attention spans, but I wished it was a tiny bit longer. I felt like Max’s relationship with his sister should have been wrapped up a little better, like even if she was sitting at the table with his mother at the end, I felt like it would have been better. He became friends with KW so why not his real life sister? Also, Bob and Terry were the best part.

    • I dunno, his sister looked like a pre-teen. KW went out of her way to be friends with him. His sister is at the age where she is probably being a jerk to everyone, and has zero interest in being “friends” with her little brother. I think it would have been forced.

  56. I saw it with my Mom which I was a little embarrassed about going in but turns out was probably the best way I could have seen it other than with my 7 and 11 year old nephews plus my Mom. Anyway, it was a real as any movie I’ve seen in it’s portrayal of Max. That is what kids are like.

    My Mom probably liked it better than I did. She raised 4 boys and she had pretty much all of that stuff happen to or in front of her. None of us had the guts to try and bite her though. But Max is totally believable. I’d like to see it again, it really does seem to get better as I go through all the different elements. I think my Mom really appreciated it because she got to relive the childhoods of my brothers and me. She also struggled with trying to figure out how to raise us on her own and felt overwhelmed with trying to balance making herself happy and trying to figure out how to teach us to be men.

    In a lot of ways this movie was “What It’s Like to Be a Boy Without A Dad Around” but maybe that’s just because of my childhood was like. I am sure girls have plenty to dig into also. My friend took her 3 yr old daughter who loved everything But the dirt clod fight. That sounds about right to me. That was pretty much every game of WAR or (I apologize in advance, it was a stupider time in many ways) Smear The Queer. It’s all fun and games till someone gets hurt, and they always get hurt. Usually we called him a sissy and rode our bikes to another creek or bamboo patch. Kids are mean and stupid . . . and awesome sometimes too.

    I have also have a feeling there will be many outbreaks of adults acting like children in the next few weeks. I admit I spent a good chunk of my weekend running around in the woods with a stick whacking spider webs, chasing wild turkeys and playing with fire.

  57. There were two complaints I had about this movie and since the first one has to do with how I feel, sometimes, about david eggers, I’ll leave it out. The fact that max doesn’t return home to a bowl of soup waiting for me really changed things for me. I know it sounds pretty dumb, but the book was about there being a place for you, no matter what, but this movie, because it had to be extended and because it was a movie, played more to growing into a more mature being. He had to learn to see it from the other sides before he could go back, and although i loved it, and i cried at the end, all of me wanted that soup bowl to be in his room, waiting, even if it didn’t make total sense. I know, he ate like, five seconds after coming home, but the message change kinda sticks with me.
    but, sadly, as an adult (ish) I wanted to howl with max on the way home too. I would have if I didn’t have a sense of shame attached to being loud in public.

  58. I went to see it with two of my best friends, one of whom was completely unfamiliar with the book (deprived childhood?!), and coming out of the movie, none of us knew what to say, just silently got into my car and drove away. People keep saying it’s a beautifully shot movie, and I guess it was! But somehow I totally didn’t notice? Because crying and loving and happiness.

    So, Jonze and Eggers, great job! In The Night Kitchen next please???

    • Your experience sounds exactly like mine. My friends and I waited in line for the showing before us to let out, and when it did everyone had the most glum faces. People in line were asking if the movie was good, and everyone nodded but looked so sad.

      By the end of the movie, I felt exactly the same. It was a good movie, but I felt overwhelmingly melancholy. I didn’t feel like talking the whole way home. Someone pointed out the emotional issues of the movie being probably too complex for kids, and I would agree because I found them to be too much! But I have the emotional maturity of a three year old, so there you go.

      There were kids in the movie, but they were older since we were at a later show. I don’t know how younger kids reacted, but if I had a kid I probably wouldn’t take them if they were younger than about 9 or 10. It was scary, but not because of the monsters themselves.

      The movie is definitely about being a kid, rather than for them. As a child, I found The Neverending Story and similar movies scary, but watching them as an adult, they don’t have the same punch. They’re definitely kids movies. This movie is an adult movie in disguise. A kid could handle it, sure, but it was heavier than I expected it.

  59. I will not repeat comments made above about how emotional and enjoyable this film was, but I will say that it made me a little baby-crazy. Because I’m getting to that age, and Max was such a creative and sweet little wild thing. Anecdotes of the reactions of children to the film make it worse!

  60. i took my 10-year old cousin on friday. she liked it, but declared it ‘freaky.’ when i took her home, her grandfather asked what was freaky about it, and she told him that ‘one monster ripped the other monster’s arm right off!’ we had a nice little talk about how kids movies today have no real consequences. she actually compared WTWTA to the wizard of oz (in terms of freakiness). i think it’s a good thing for kids to have ‘darker’ movie options, as opposed to all the over-sanitized ice ages and such.

  61. Don’t vote those last two comments down, just keep going! ANYWAY, yeah I felt kind of indifferent after the movie. Like I didn’t know what to think. Certain things really confused me, and reading all of your reactions I think I was thinking way too hard about this movie.

    The thing that stands out though is what was up with those two owls?!?!? What was that? Were they symbolizing something specific. They just confused the hell out of me.

    • Bob and Terry symbolized Mark Ruffalo’s charcter. If Carol is Max and KW is his mother, then the owls are Ruffalo, in the wild thing world they come in (uninvited by Carol) and draw the attention and affection of Kw from Carol to the owls, in the real world it makes sense that after a divorce a time a boy needs his mother most, he is “replaced” by her new fling, thats how they are represented in his imagination world…. woof…. hope that helped

  62. I honestly do not remember anything from the book besides the monster drawings so I’ll stick to the movie itself:

    I’ll agree with the person who said this was a perfect movie about growing up as a kid. Not a fairy tale about what some adults think is “best”, where there’s a sympathetic hero and everything ends with big happy montage.

    I have a sister who is 6 years older than me, when you are a small kid that might as well be 20 years, so I was very lonely and didn’t have close friends. I would do forts all the time and often spent days and even nights there. I was also very temperamental. What I’m trying to say is that I saw a lot of things from my own childhood in this movie and I think that’s what they were shooting for. That said, I didn’t find it particularly funny but it was very engaging. I got very scared of Carol, to be honest, but then cried during the final scene when he’s rushing to the shore. While at the same time I see Gabe’s point about feeling like an spectator and not an accomplice. All in all very good movie!

  63. Great! I get to go after the porn spam!

    Anyway, I saw it yesterday and loved it. I saw Carol as representing Max’s absent father, especially when Carol gets really angry and hurts KW’s feelings and then just wants everything to be okay but gets frustrated with himself and goes off. It was a bold step making Max’s world tragic and sad but it made it all make sense. Thank you Spike Jonze! The only thing lacking was no sea monster rising up when Max arrives at the island!

  64. I’m a little late in the game, especially considering the fact that I saw this movie the night it came out. I must say that I adored this movie. It wasn’t AS magical as I’d hoped it would be. But I thought it was beautiful and it gave me a wistful ache for childhood. Also, it flipped a switch in my brain (or uterus, perhaps) that made me realize I want kids some day. That’s a big deal for me. It’s also kind of scary to think a person might make a life-changing decision based on a movie. I’ll be sure to name my first son “Max”.

  65. i don’t know, you guys. The trailer was SO good, it made me hope for something profound & magical from the film. Overall, the end was sweet but otherwise I was quite meh about it, unfortunately. (I have no soul/heart?) And even the climax felt kind of unearned(?) Will Max & Carol go down as one of cinema’s great film buddy duos? I would guess not (sadly). Because you’re left thinking, well, I guess they’re friends because the movie made them friends, but I’m still not really sure why they’re friends, and therefore I’m not totally sure why everyone’s SO SAD when Max leaves. Together they didn’t all really endure that much together. A more appropriate goodbye at the end would have been: “Well Max, it was nice to meet you. You were a very pleasant young boy, I guess. Take care!”

    Maybe I will appreciate it more down the road? I’m glad so many other people here had that magical experience. I am jealous.

  66. I saw this and loved it. I hated Max when he was acting out and being a fuckpig, but that is how I was supposed to feel. Kids are not fully developed and can be litttle jerks who act out in a crappy, sometimes biting way. But I also had contradictory feelings of sympathy for him as a lonely kid with issues about his mother dating doods like Ruffalo and not being paid (what he felt was) enough attention to him. So he dons his wolf suit and acts like a monster and goes on a little kid freak out.

    As to the wild things and their dialogue, I do not agree that it was Woody Allen-esque in any way. I felt that it was a brilliantly crafted version of a 9 or 10 year old’s idea of dialogue. Never super incite-laden, but wishful, angry, frustrated, wrong, fantastical, scared, make-believe, made-up-rules-oriented, hopeful, jealous – all the things a kid feels and goes through. It never lets up on this sort of dialogue and I respect it for that. The writing never really gets ADULT and Max never really learns anything, except that he needs to be back with his mom, the one thing he realizes that the wild things need – an adult to look out for them, be there for them and care for them. Not a make believe king, but a real parent.

    I understand the desire to look some aspects of the fantasy as Jonze going overboard with his construction of elaborate set pieces to make for supercool, wow-look-at-that-monster-made-Karen-O-backed-scene-of-a-diorama-that-actually-took-somebody-many-many-hours-to-handcraft, brought about from the fake imagination of a boy who couldn’t think of this in reality. But, the scene where he sits under his mom’s desk gives us the idea that this is a kid who has before and is now coming up with imaginative stories and who, just might, come up with another (this) story about a group of monsters in need of a caring adult parent.

    Anyways, a beautiful film that made me feel like a kid again and that made me cry about feeling like a kid again.

    • Agreed 100%. And regarding people who are saying that it is too complex for children to understand, I don’t think that’s true. They may not intellectually understand the meaning of this movie like we do, but I think that they can emotionally understand it. The movie presented complex things in a very simple, straightforward way that I think most children will instinctively get on a gut level. That’s been my experience though, from my niece and other people I’ve talked to.

  67. I saw this movie with my 10 year old niece, and she loved it, as did I. She’s actually pretty mature and acerbic for a child, but she laughed at all of the jokes and was seriously sobbing when Carol ran to watch Max sail away at the end. I’ll admit to being a little teary-eyed myself. She told me afterward that she really understood Max. Her parents are divorced, she hardly ever sees her dad and misses him terribly, and she lives with her single mother who is very stressed out and recently lost her job. She told me that she’s misbehaved because she was angry with everything and then felt horrible afterward for making things worse for her mother. She seriously emotionally connected with this movie, because it presented things in a serious and understated way that was nothing but truthful. My little niece was so moved, it was amazing. She really loved it.

    And as a child myself who grew up in a similar position, it really brought me back to that time. But it didn’t make my niece or I feel depressed about it, in the end it made us feel hopeful and comforted. It was a lovely movie, and I’m glad that I got to experience it.

  68. It was my favorite film I’ve seen in a long long time. It resonated with my experience of childhood perfectly.

  69. I agree with pretty much everything you said. I almost hated this movie. Yes it felt “presented” and it felt like a forced perspective of a child. The trailer was better than the movie. Something that irritated me was that Max did not “tame” the wild things as he did in the book. He “escapes” his “terrible” home life only to go to a place that is just as if not more terrible? As a child, I always felt that Max was partying with the wild things. This movie was dreary and boring and fake. I’m really glad though that they did not rely heavily (or at all?) on CGI.

    But my kids liked it a lot. So go figure.

  70. This film is absolutely fantastic. Very adult themes for a child’s film. But I liked that since it never insulted my intelligence. It did stray heavily from the book though.

  71. I saw this film with my mum, my sister and her boyfriend, because I am cool. I enjoyed it a lot, and it was made even better by the fact that the boyfriend looks exactly, exactly like Carol.

  72. [IMG]http://i45.tinypic.com/10i6u7p.jpg[/IMG]

  73. [IMG]http://i45.tinypic.com/10i6u7p.jpg

  74. Golly, they have a wild thing in them.

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