Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Where the Wild Things Are" Review

Spoiler Alert.

When I first heard about this movie, I was intrigued and blogged about it. My daughter and I watched it last night and I think I want to watch it again. Just to make sure I understand this movie.

Stylistically, I liked the way it was shot. Very casual, handheld camera movements, light hits seemingly arbritarily, but it's intentional. The beginning of the movie had a 70's feel to it, so it instantly reminded me of my childhood. I actually questioned the timeline until we see the mother working on a computer. Actually, it was an older desktop she had. So, now it could appeal more to someone who grew up in 90's.

It opens up with a day in Max's life. He's wrestling the dog and seems more animal than boy. You see everything from his point of view and can empathize with him. Watching him argue with his mother in the famous scene, he seems like a lost and frustrated boy. You understand his situation from his point of view, as well as his family's.

When he escapes to "where the wild things are," his adventures begin. The Wild Things are essentially large muppets with excellent facial expressions. I loved how they all had normal voices and names - Carrol, KW, Judith. Nobody had a fanciful name or funny voices. They sounded and acted like average humans. They just had the impulse to eat Max, every now and then.

At home, Max has no control over his circumstances. With the Wild Things, he does. Yet, with power comes great responsibilities. They have their adventures and there's no sense of time in this new world. There's no sense of baths either as his costume gets dirtier. When problems rise and he's forced to be the "grownup", he quietly reflects. There are lots of power dynamics between the other creatures and their own relationships with each other, as well as what it takes to make an ideal society. The whole movie is rather quiet and low.

So, the book is written for young readers - 5-7 years old. It's perfect for kids. There's a bit of rebellion, lots of dreams. When I was young, I didn't like Max because he was a rude boy. I loved the Wild Things with their fun spirit.

I watched this movie with my 9-year-old, and I think that's a good age to really absorb this movie. Anyone younger will quickly be turned off by the quiet nature of this movie. Also, I'm intrigued by my daughter's reaction to this movie. When I was young, I was offended by "I'll eat you up" threat from Max. My daughter was shocked when Max bit his mother in anger. That stayed with her all evening as his most brazen act - you don't attack your mother. She was also upset by the way he had wrestled the dog and was surprised the dog took it. She and I talked about Max and his handling of anger, since I don't want her to imitate him and think she could get away with it. By the way, she asked me what would I do if she ran away. I told her I'd go find her and she could never go away from me. I have to laugh thinking of my sister and I threatening my mom that we'd run away. She'd laugh at us and say, "Oh yeah, go right ahead. The world is ready for you, right? Come here, we've been waiting for you!"

The end was surprisingly quite moving. Max's farewell to his friends and his reunion home.

I definitely want to see it again and understand it better. And turn up the volume more so I could hear it.

1 comment:

J.Doe said...

It's very interesting to read about your daughter's viewpoint on movie scenes. I haven't seen the movie, and it's been ages since I've read the book but I remember liking the illustrations.