Where the Wild Things Are: A Review

Where The Wild Things Are (1963).
Image via Wikipedia

By Cassie Scannella
Staff Writer

Recently I went to see Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonzes’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book. Where the Wild Things Are was Jonze’s highly anticipated follow up to Adaptation; it may have taken five years for Jonze to get the movie made but it was worth every minute of the wait.  Being familiar with Jonze’s previous work, my expectations were high going into this movie. My only question was how he would take a children’s books of barely forty pages and no more than ten sentences and turn it not only into a working script with appropriate dialogue but into an actual full feature film.

The opening scene begins with Max out in the snow building a snow for or castle and vying for is Claire’s attention. Claire though is too busy with her friends or at least Max thinks so. What happens next, leaves Max hurt and causes him to act out in anger because of his confusion and isolation. In the next scene we see the same reaction from Max as his mom does not have enough time for him or at least in Max’s eyes because of work and having a date over that night and again Max acts of in anger this time biting his mother and then running out of the house to escape the pain.

When we next see Max he is on a ship sailing across an ocean to an island (all of which is in his imagination). Once Max reaches shores he encounters large beasts which are the wild things. Max firsts meets everyone as Carol is acting out in rage and destroying everyone’s homes. The wild things then spot Max and are about to eat him when Max tells them he is their king and is there to make everything better and the sadness and loneliness go away. The wild things are having the same problem Max is they are lonely because one of the Judith has found new friends and is spending less time with them. As a result of this they do not know how to handle their emotions and each act out with Carol being the worst and most volatile. Flash forward Max and the rest of the wild things decide to build a big castle to keep out all the pain and bad feelings, even Judith helps build the castle. But once it’s built Judith brings along her two friends Bob and Bob, which really upsets Carol. Judith’s two friends can be heard by everyone but Max and Carol because Carol is a representation of Max and just like Max seeing Judith with her new friends leaves Carol feeling rejected angry and unable to understand why she needs them. All of this leaves Carol very angry and Max feeling like he has to leave his newly made friends out of fear of what Carol may do. Max boards his ship to set sail home with all of the wild things but Carol sending him off. Just as he is about to sail out of sight Carol shows up realizing Max is a true friend and understands how he feels. The movie ends with Max making his way home and dinner waiting there for him, leaving the viewer with the hope and sense that maybe Max understands things better now or maybe this is just all part of growing up and Max will be ok.

The wild things Max imagines are in reality all either a part of himself or a person close to him in his life. Judith represents Claire, who just like Claire is growing up and branching out and finding new friends. Just like Max, Carol does not accept this or know how to handle his emotions in reaction to it. In life we all grow out of childhood and experience a plethora of emotions some of us handle it better but it is an experience for us all. Growing up is a part of life we all go through, at one time or another we feel anger, loneliness or unimportant because of it. Where the Wild Things Are brought back many of these same emotions I felt during my child hood albeit under different circumstances, but also lots of good emotions such as the unconditional friendship that Max realizes he has with the wild things or a child imagination, which we so easily forget about as we grow older. With all of this said I highly recommend anyone seeking a journey back to their youth to go and watch this movie, also anyone interested in a very well made movie in terms of production and cinematography I recommend this movie to you also.

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