One of my favorite books growing up was a little book by Maurice Sendak entitled "Where The Wild Things Are." A book about a boy named Max, who escaped to the wild things through his imagination when life got tough. In some aspect I found a little of me inside of Max.
Zoom ahead now to 2009. I never would have believed to see a big screen adaptation of the timeless book, but we actually do have one. Adapted to the screen but Spike Jonze who also directed the movie and Dave Eggers. They did such an amazing job bringing the book to life. A lot of the stuff in the movie needed to be created to fill in the gaps from the book. We have to remember the book was a little over 40 pages and had 9 sentences so there was a lot to make up for. Jonze and Eggers give us such an endearing movie experience that will touch your hearts and overpower your emotions.
Jonze known for directing music videos as well as critically acclaimed movie "Adapatation" has given us a first hand look at what life is like for a child in this world. There is no sugar coating life for Max in this movie. We get a visceral view on how he deals with problems that come up in his life, such as being ignored by his sister, who seems to have time for her friends but never for Max. Max's mother has a new boyfriend and with work on top of that Max feels like he's being put on the back burner. We have to remember he is a child, he hasn't been taught how to handle parts of life that get tough and seem like no one acknowledges you or wants you around. Max's only output is anger and retaliation. Jonze has done such a tremendous job of not just putting that up on the big screen but making it seem real, giving true feeling to it. When watching the movie you will catch glimpses of yourself in Max.
Max, played perfectly by new comer Max Records, you can also see him in "The Brothers Bloom", escape from his trouble life is inside his imagination. In the book, Max would escape by going into his room, which would then transport him to the Wild Things. In the movie adaptation we have Max sailing away to where the Wild Things are. Max is taken in by the Wild Things and is made their king. This makes Max happy because he is now in a place where he is respected and is being paid attention too. Records brings a tremendous amount of honesty to the role and makes the character Max see real, and very believable in how his actions are played out. All of his actions seem very natural and true.
We see that even though Max is happy with his new found friends, he still has family issues that need to be sorting out. He makes friends with Carol, voiced by James Gandolfini. Everyone should be remember Gandolfini as crime boss Tony Soprano. Gandolfini does a tremendous job bringing life to the Carol. Carol is kind of like Max, fun, can be kind of shy at times, but does have anger issues going on, especially in the way he handles situation. We see this really come out in Carol near the end of the movie. Catherine O'Hara plays the downer Judith. She's an amazing actress, most notedly showing up in Christopher Guest films such as "Best In Show" and "A Mighty Wind." She is married to Ira, he likes to make holes in things. Ira is brought to life by Academy Award Winner Forrest Whitaker. We also have Douglas the bird like Thing who is Carol's right hand man, voiced to perfection by Academy Award Winner Chris Cooper, Alexander the Ram, played by Paul Dano, and lets not forget about KW played by Six Feet Under's Lauren Ambrose. All the actors bring their A List game to the movie and it really shows. It also helps that Jonze had them reading their parts all together in the same sound recording room to give that full effect that they were all together.
As the story progresses we see parts of Max's life play out in each other characters of the Wild Things. Slowly we see the hurt and the pain that Max is going through in his life. As many critics said before this movie is really for adults. Kids will like the charm of the creatures and will like the fun they have when buidling their fort or having the dirt clod fight, but I think younger kids will be left confused as to why the creatures are sad and aren't happy. This movie will definitely pull at your heartstrings and may make you shed some tears. Spike Jonze I think has made a movie that will stand the test of time and become an instant classic. Jonze really pour his heart and soul into the picture and it really shows, especially for the fact that a child's life is realistically portrayed on the big screen. Something that is never shown in Hollywood. Life for a child may be fun and carefree it seems, but at the same time sad and unforgiving. We see this in Max, we feel the pain he is going through. Chances are we have been through part of what Max is going through already and are able to see part of us up there on the big screen.