Where the Wild Things Are

So after a troubled production and five years which saw one version re-shot because it was too scary we hail the arrival of Spike Jonze (& David Eggers) adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s eight page children’s classic ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. For those of you unfamiliar with the book it tells the story of Max a young boy whose home life is causing him to act up, absent father, mother re-dating and everything else that growing up entails. To combat his lack of understanding of his feelings and in an effort to escape he retreats into a fantasy world inhabited by the wild things a rag tag bunch of monsters who for better of a word lack direction. On meeting Max they make him their king and in the words of the book ‘Let the wild rumpus start’ as they all embark on a journey of self discovery. Here obviously Jonze and Eggers have fleshed the story out to stretch it to a film but, and here’s the thing, no more than your own imagination would anyway. If it seems so it’s probably because Jonze’s imagination is just bigger and more creative than yours or mine. The island of wild things made with a little help from the Jim Henson workshop, is a fantastical place, rolling seas, misty forests and open deserts plenty of places to run wild. But when all the fort building and mud fights are over you realise that all the wild things each have their own character flaws and Max is struggling to deal with his new family as much as his old. With each creature representing a part of Max’s personality anger, insecurity, aggression, isolation etc the combination is volatile and eventually it’s this he has to leave behind him when he returns home. Laced with metaphors in between the stunning sets and extended story this film should resonate with anyone who is growing or has grown up. It’s funny and moving and the Karen O soundtrack fits like an oversized hairy glove. The stars, Max being one and the wild things who are animated and emote so well that they are completely believable after spending just a few minutes with them, carry this film way beyond Jonze’s twisted mind and into your own. As the tagline says ‘There’s one inside all of us’ and who hasn’t wanted to let out a primal scream when things go wrong or right? Max is for whatever reason rebelling against himself, those close to him and even the world and it takes the inner dialogue of spending time with the wild things which allows him to get perspective and push through to finding his place and moving towards adulthood. Put simply you can view this film as a fantasy with big monsters in it but equally you could read deeper into the psychological nature of the journey. But however you view the film its universal appeal will speak to all generations so let out a yowl and let the wild rumpus start.

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