Super Carnitas reviews Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are – 2009
Writer – Spike Jonze, David Eggers
Director – Spike Jonze
Based on the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
I intentionally avoided this movie when it was released in theaters. I suppose it was because I absolutely expected to be disappointed. The book never really left an impression on me as a child. My fondest memory….is really disconnected from the book itself. In kindergarten, the library in my school had a huge mural of Max leading the Wild Things through the forest. Max looked proud and confident….the monsters happily marching in tow. The monsters scared me a bit. A tiny bit. Years later I read the book. I loved the way the book looked. It was different….odd…and beautiful. The story though….it was forgettable. It never stuck with me. The art and the images stayed with me forever.
Plus…the book is so short. In my mind the story was weak to begin with. I couldn’t imagine a film stretching something so thin…without tearing it. Friends who saw it told me it was great. These same friends were psyched to see it months before it was released. I wasn’t convinced.
Were it not for the glory of Netflix I may have never seen this film. I haphazardly add films to my 500 count Netflix queue..and I randomize said queue about once a month. It’s just what I do. Where the Wild Things Are purely showed up by happy accident…or fate. Whatever.
I loved this movie. Love may not even be a strong enough term. I expected nothing but cool visuals from this movie….and yet somehow it managed to kick me in the gut. I sat and watched this movie alone, in my apartment. My phone was turned off…the lights were out…i may have been a tad inebriated…but you know. This movie just floored me. When it was over…I hit stop on the remote…and I just sat there in the dark for maybe 6 or 7 minutes.
I was rattled. I can’t remember the last movie that had such an effect on me.
Where the Wild Things Are is not a kids movie. It just isn’t. And maybe the book isn’t really a kids book…I have yet to revisit it. But I would imagine that kids would be bored with this movie. It’s pace is deliberate and intentional. There is no huge payoff…or clear cut good guys and bad guys. This movie isn’t for kids….yet it was marketed as such. Another reason I put off seeing it for so long.
I’m sorry…but this movie was made for adult men. That’s not to say that women..or girls can”t appreciate Where the Wild Things Are. On some level they can. I’m sure there are guys who appreciated Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants…on some level. I’m just saying, if you’re not an adult male, it wasn’t designed for you. Just like Glenn Beck isn’t designed for smart people…yet some smart people get sucked in.
Wow…have I even started talking about the movie yet?
In my opinion…the angst and confusion that exists inside the mind of a 9 year old boy has never been captured so perfectly. Max starts off immediately feeling alienated. His sister and her friends embarrass him…then his mother makes him feel small…and unimportant. He’s sent to bed early….so he flees.
Max finds himself amongst the Wild Things. His first encounter with them finds him witnessing one of the monsters (Carol) destroying a bunch of huts….much to the dismay of his fellow monsters. Max decides to jump in and help/join Carol in the destruction. From there….the Wild Things (monsters) (demons) eventually decide to eat Max.
Max promises the Wild Things (monsters) (demons) that he has special powers. He was a King before…and he could be a King again. A King of this place. The bones and the crown in the fire pit…tell another story. But the monsters (demons) want to be contained. They want a King. So they give Max a chance.
Now here’s where the movie become something else. Max is King. As King he acts like a nine year old would be expected to act. His visions are grand and self-serving. His schemes short-sighted and ambiguous. He’s confronted with things he’s never had to deal with before. Jealousy, dependence, envy, limitations, and consequences for his actions. His every action falls short…and the monsters (demons) start to doubt him. They press him to show his special powers…and when they realize he has none….things fall apart. He eventually heads home…his mother embraces him…and who knows what happens going forward.
Here’s what kicked me in the gut. I’m no psychologist…or whatever….but this movie tapped into something in me. Something i’ve left exposed and vulnerable. I think it’s about confronting and controlling our demons. Jealousy, alcoholism, fear, hatred, ego, control issues, anger…etc. The bones in the fire pit tell us that sometimes the monsters (demons) devour us. We proclaim ourselves King…but more often than not…it’s not enough.
I love that the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are…never stop being MONSTERS. Even at their sweetest and most concerned…they never stop being monsters (demons). They are imposing, potentially evil, and scary.
Sometimes the monsters (demons) win. I feel Max spent his time learning that simple fact. What happens next is up to him. But what Max wrestles with on his journey can’t help but feel familiar. I personally still wrestle with some of these issues…daily..and it’s been a long time since I’ve been 9.
Where the Wild Things Are struck an chord in me. It really touched me. There’s no way the book can be as good as the film. If it’s even close…wow. I need to go revisit Harold and the Purple Crayon. What have I been missing?