1.5 stars out of 5 (one of the worst i’ve seen)
If you have been reading other papers lately, you may have noticed that “Where the Wild Things Are” has gotten a boatload of good reviews. DON’T BELIEVE THEM. The film is too scary (or boring) for small children, and if you put a suicidal human in there, he would probably kill himself when Max (the main character) gets to the island. The film is depressing and will drain you of all your happiness by the end of it. It was so bad I’m having a hard time thinking of anything funny to say -I’m kind of ashamed for the director, Spike Jonze. Depressing, boring; good grief; I kept thinking-will you just eat the kid and get it over with?? Please- just do it!!!!
Here’s the story: Max is a young child who lives in a divorced family: a mother who loves him but is barely home and a sister who’s a brat. He does not have a very good life at all. After a fight with his mother over his bratty behavior, Max bites her on the shoulder and runs away into the woods and finds a tiny little boat. He sails this boat onto an island that various Muppet-like creatures inhabit. When they find him, the creatures threaten to eat Max until he commands them to “Be Still”. They do, and after some very bad lying on Max’s part, the creatures appoint Max King of the island. The creatures are Carol, a male wild thing with anger issues, KW, Ira, Judith, and Alexander, a goat-like thing. The creatures are straight out of the book, although none are named in the book.
The back story of why the boy is sad is like so many other films written off of classic books: the family is divorced and the child feels unloved by everyone. As I was watched this little boy act viciously I thought, “Good Lord, if kids see this they’ll be bouncing off the walls when they get home from the movies.” Too much of the film has bad behavior that kids will imitate. (Can you tell I’m a rule follower?) I’m usually able to watch other kids act badly, but at this level I could barely stand it. As you can tell, I really didn’t like this child.
In one scene, Max stands up on the kitchen counter and commands “Woman, feed me!” to his mother. If I tried to pull that stunt, I’d be grounded until the world ended (which is supposedly in 3 years according to the internet, the Mayan Calendar, and several teenagers at my school.)
Most of what happens in the human world was the most interesting part of the movie to me. If Spike Jonze had created a film with these characters and this situation in a normal world, he could have told a good story. I would have actually cared about what happened with the mom and her boyfriend, and probably felt sorry for Max even though he was a brat. But once he got to “Wild World” or whatever, the semi-interesting story evaporated into one howwwwwwwl after another. The message, which is hard to see through all this relationship stuff going on, is that when you have power over a group of people, you have to make sure they are all happy all the time. This lost touch with the original simple message of the book.
As for the young children I saw in the theater-one kid who was about 15 months old wouldn’t stop howling so his mom had to take him out two or three times. My dad actually left for about an hour and came back at the end. (I think he snuck into another movie!) So would kids like this? Hmmm… at the beginning I don’t think kids will understand the whole divorce situation. Then, once Max gets to the island, kids won’t understand the complicated relationships going on with every character. There are a lot of boring relationship stories. My friend Dr. Eric Fier who is a psychiatrist and stand-up comedian would have a field day trying to figure out these monsters and their issues. Maurice Sendak would probably be mad about the movie.
Rated PG for thematic elements, action violence, and brief language or Pure Garbage.