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?

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11 Responses to “Super Carnitas reviews Where the Wild Things Are”

  1. Great review. I’ve avoided this film for the same exact reasons you did…. I’m going to have to give this a shot.

  2. chainsawcheerleader Says:

    I really did not like this film. It was mainly because of Max. I saw him as some whiny little brat that acted out and as he entered the world of the monsters he changes nothing. He ruins everything he touches and it seemed like he learned nothing about his behavior in the real world to apply to the monsters world. Just like how he ran away from his actions in the real world, he runs away from them in the land of the monsters. When he comes home the film ends without you knowing if he does change. All you see is his mother hugging him. You learn more about the mother then her child (that she loves him regardless).

    I never looked at the point that this film was for adult men only. It clearly was not a childrens movie. I was never a 9 year old boy. So, I am uncertain as to how little boys feel and think. I may have liked the film more if I could relate to Max.

    This was a wonderful review. It was well written with a deep view of the character.

  3. Good review, wife wanted to see it more than I did. I just set up a netflix account, will add this to it and then maybe offer my own review.

  4. Beautiful review and dead on.

  5. I agree Kev. Awesome review. I always thought the book was nothing and ended up watching the flick purely by accident. I’m glad I did, for much of the same reasons you explained so eloquently. Great way to kick off.

  6. Thanked-sai Says:

    Pretty good review for a chummmmmp.

  7. I’m very impressed with your first post. I hope you keep blogging KKP 🙂

  8. Thanks for the kind words everyone. I’m sure in the future the responses will get a bit more combative…but this was nice. thanks.

  9. Nice review!! The movie has been sitting next to my TV for the last month, unwatched, due to a lot of the same reservations that you had. I’ll have to give it a shot.

  10. SaafireButterfly Says:

    This was a wonderful review, and offered me a point of view on this movie I’d never considered. Perhaps girls are taught that it’s not the problems that truly matter, but how you deal with them and how they can change you for the better. I saw the potential power to transorm that this film had, only to see it fall short in the form of a spoiled child who wallowed in his issues and even upon realizing the destruction he had caused chose to flee yet again instead of doing as a man should do and face his failures and grow as a person in overcoming them. Perhaps adult men have had to be strong their whole lives, and relish the opportunity this movie gives them to escape to a place where they have permission to focus on their own feelings as they did when they were boys. Having never been a boy nor an adult male, I can’t say for sure, but I’m glad for the chance to ponder it. I look forward to more insightful reviews.

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