I know this issue’s been a divisive one since the release of the movie (I mean, it’s no Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but people definitely got heated when talking about it in class) but I did not enjoy Where the Wild Things Are. I bring this up because tomorrow is it’s release on DVD/Blu-Ray and I’ve been trying to go over it in my mind just what I didn’t like about it.
Let’s dispel one myth that I’ve seen on countless message boards on IMDb (and yes, I’m one of those nerds that reads them). I did get it. I understood the premise of the movie and what Spike Jonze was trying to do with it. I just didn’t enjoy it. The movie is certainly not without its merits. The camera work is impressive and the performances are incredible. So this isn’t me trashing the movie, it’s just me thinking out loud as to what was missing.
The character of Max is an interesting place to start, seeing as the whole movie revolves around him. I’m not sure how, but I got a completely different idea of who he was from the book. I think that’s one of the issues I had with the movie is that, in the book, sure he threw tantrums and caused all sorts of trouble, but none of it stopped me from being able to relate to him. Maybe it’s an issue of time? Now that I’m older if I see a kid like Max (and as a youngest child this saying a lot…) I would just want to smack him. It was the crying that got to me. He’d pick a fight or throw a tantrum and then he’d start crying. I understand he’s a product of divorce and his life is hard and he’s been forced to grow up too fast, but that was something I was faced with in my childhood and I still saw nothing of Max that i could identify with on any level. It wasn’t the same boy that I read about before I went to bed as a kid.
I understand that’s my issue and this isn’t an assault on the movie (although I could have done without the Karen O and some of the self-masturbatory indie moments) but it does a lot to take you out of a movie. Still, whether I liked the movie or not, I did appreciate some of the things that it had to say (plus Lauren Ambrose was pretty awesome). I was upset to see parents criticizing the movie because they took their kids to it and found out it wasn’t a children’s movie. While it’s true that the book was a kid’s book, it also dealt with some pretty intense stuff albeit in a more accessible manner. Nevertheless, I did appreciate the movie for its perspective on childhood without being a children’s movie. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that and while I could argue whether or not Jonze succeeded, I give him credit for trying.