Monday, October 12, 2009

Max Rules A Tamer Kingdom, The Wild Things Are Gone

The idea to make what was such a controversial children's book into a full length motion picture took a lot of nerve and desire. Maurice Sendak's classic book comes to the big screen with the visionary aide of director Spike Jonze, "Where the Wild Things Are" follows the adventures of a young boy who sets out one night and finds himself alone on an island filled with wild creatures. The images on screen are a mixture of real actors, computer animation, and live puppetering, yes the creatures are men in six, eight and nine foot tall costumes.

Max (Max Records) is a lonely child, he has a loving family, his mom (Catherine Keener) spends as much time with him as she can, but she has to support the family and find time for herself as well. Max's sister Claire (Pepita Emmerichs) spend little to no time with Max, in her only scene she is going out with some friends. After she leaves Max goes into her room tracking ice and snow, he jumps on her bed and breaks Claire's things. He then goes into his room to lay in bed, later when mom comes home, she and Max clean up the bedroom. Later mom has a man over (Mark Ruffalo) and max acts up, when Mom tries to control him, Max bites her and runs off into the night.

Max finds a small sea craft and sets out, that this little lagoon turns into what is obviously an ocean, that leads Max to a small island is one of the movies little flaws, it is inconceivable that this ocean would end up as a small little lagoon in what is the center of a city. Anyway Max lands his craft on the beach, after a harrowing journey that lasted several days and nights, alone on the ocean with no food, water or compass, but yet Max finds land, and on his return trip he not only finds his way home, but he finds the exact spot from which he left in the first place. I'd buy that for a dollar.

Max's adventure starts when he comes across several creatures, Max at first has the idea to hide until he can determine what it is he is seeing. Max has come across some wild creatures one is destroying the houses of the others, max finds him intriguing and decides to go out and help him. Carol (James Gandolfini) appears to be the leader of the group and Max wants to make an impression on at least him. Max doesn't know that Carol is upset because the love of his life is gone. K.W. (Lauren Ambrose) has had enough of Carols meanness and has decided to go live somewhere else. When Max is confronted by the other creatures he yells out to stop, that they can't eat him because he is a king. Ira (Forest Whitaker) and his girlfriend Judith (Catherine O'Hara) seem to buy into Max's story, while others like Alexander (Paul Dano) seem to be waiting for the others approval first. Still others like Douglas (Chris Cooper) stand back and just act as if they believe. It appears that every story has a wild old owl here we get two, they are friends of K.W. Friends whom Carol is jealous of, and wants nothing to do with.

This is a story of a selfish child who needed to come to grips with his emotions, if you pay attention to each one of these characters you will see almost every emotion of a small child, the scared shy child, Alexander often mentions that no one is paying attention to him, that no one ever listens, truth be told that is every child's fear, that no one is paying attention to them. The needy child, Ira just about begs to be a bad guy when they decide to play a game of mud clump, he wants to be with Judith so bad, that he holds his hand up and repeats over and over to let him be a bad guy. The loner is The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.) he seems to always be alone, until the end when his need for confirmation makes him seek out Max.

Of course all good things come to an end, Carol finds out that Max isn't a king and feels betrayed, another emotion that every child feels at some point in his life, that what he is told just isn't fact can be an especially crippling emotion. Max decides that it is time for him to leave, Judith mentions that he is the only King that they haven't eaten, O.K. so they were wild, but waiting to see anything happen took forever. The kingdom that Max would have ruled was vast and wide, forest desert and fertile fields abound. Max never had time to enjoy the place, he wanted to make the creatures happy an in that need as a child he failed. As a movie this adaptation comes close to perfection, but it too fails, the story is more uplifting then adventurous, more sappy than scary, more tender then heartbreaking. The book stands as a perfect story still, and should be read before you go out to see this film.

I give Where The Wild Things Are a 2 and on my avoidance scale a 0, this movie will entertain every young child and many teenagers as well, lovers of the book may feel a little disappointment but not enough to really say the movie didn't deliver on it's promises. Max Records does a superb job as an angry child who wanders away and finds that he really does need and love his family that things may not be perfect but he does have people that care about him and that family is important. A lesson that many of us as adult may still need to learn.

Where The Wild Things Are is rated PG for Mild Thematic Elements, Some Action Adventure and Brief Language
Running time is 1 hr. 34 mins.

No comments: