Arts and Entertainment

Wild Things not wild enough even for its youngest audience

By Alex Frail
Published: November 2009

How do you turn a beloved children’s book about ten sentences long, into a feature-length film?

Director Spike Jonze had this challenge when transforming Maurice Sendak’s classic book Where the Wild Things Are into a live action movie.

The movie offers much from the beginning, prolonging the protagonist’s journey to where the wild things live. The audience learns that Max, the imaginative and mischievous main character, played by the promising Max Records, feels secluded from his family as his mother tries to begin a new relationship, and his sister delves into the world of adolescence.

The real world sequences are surprisingly the most enjoyable moments. When Max first meets the wild things, the movie starts to grow stale.

From the get go, it doesn’t seem that Jonze really knew what audience he was targeting, if any at all. Some scenes are too deep for children to grasp, while others are so simplistic that adults will want to tear their hair out. Furthermore, the wild things are rather violent, as they demolish everything when angered. Violence is often present in children’s films, but several scenes in this movie threaten to cross the line.

During Max’s trip to the island, the film’s inconsistency rages. The scenes rapidly dart from violent to boring to meaningful to pointless. Here and there, the movie offered funny moments, but more often than not, it tries your patience.

Since the film is based off of such a concise book, the writers improvised to draw out the length. Unfortunately the poor translation from text to screen is blatantly obvious, and drawn out sequences last for what seems to be a life time, and the middle hour or so of the movie could have been condensed into thirty or forty minutes. After, though, the momentum picked up and suddenly, “Wild Things becomes sensitive and touching.

There are moments in which the movie soars over the top, and then in the next moment, you’re wondering when it’ll get back on its feet.

I have nothing wrong with a movie without action, but to be a succesful movie, there must be true depth and meaning during the tranquil scenes. Where the Wild Things Are jabs at this, but misses narrowly.

It’s a shame that Where the Wild Things Are isn’t as lovable as its germ. The movie requires patience, something many viewers are not willing to give nowadays.

However, the movie has its moments, spitting out humorous remarks and boasting visionary graphics.

Max’s time with the wild things mirrors his life at home. Carol, the outspoken wild thing, shares Max’s short fuse and temper while Alexander, a quiet goat, reflects Max’s seclusion from the rest of his world, etc.

Even amidst its obvious flaws, Jonze’s adaptation might grow on you. His version is not as amazing or memorable as other book-to-movie adaptations, such as Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. It might just be one of those adaptations that was made because there was a classic book lying around, and Hollywood couldn’t think of another movie to make.

Read more

Like it? Share it!


Copyright © Denebola | The Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School | 140 Brandeis Road, Newton, MA 02459.
Site designed by Chenzhe Cao.