Where the Wild Things Are Reviews

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Keith Uhlich
Time Out
November 17, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Ben Walters
Time Out
December 11, 2009
'Where the Wild Things Are' stands out for its unusually potent evocation of the timbre of childhood imagining, with its combination of the outré and the banal, grand schemes jumbled up with delicate feelings and the urge to smash things up.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
October 16, 2009
[Jonze has] achieved with the cinematic medium what Sendak did with words and pictures: He's grasped something true and terrifying about love at its most unconditional and voracious.
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
October 16, 2009
Wild Things, you do not make my heart sing.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
October 16, 2009
Intellectually interesting, visually arresting and filled with invention, there's just one crucial thing Where the Wild Things Are is missing: wildness.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
October 16, 2009
Spike Jonze, we salute you.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Nancy Churnin
Dallas Morning News
October 16, 2009
Director Spike Jonze gets that Max's subsequent journey to the far-off island of the wild things is nothing less than an odyssey into his mind.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
October 16, 2009
This blend of the real and unreal is successful because Jonze's feeling for childhood binds everything together.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
October 16, 2009
Some very good books were just never meant to be turned into movies. Sadly, you can now add Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic Where the Wild Things Are to that list.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Scott Von Doviak
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
October 16, 2009
Aimlessly trudging through woods or desert, sniping and clawing at each other, Carol and his fellow wild things come to resemble the H.R. Pufnstuf crew on downers.
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
October 16, 2009
Where the Wild Things Are is audacious in its refusal to be reassuring, which makes it hard to love, but also hard to dismiss.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
October 16, 2009
It's a joy for thinking moviegoers of any age. It doesn't seek to "keep out all the sadness," yet neither does it wallow in gloom. Instead it presents childhood as a journey filled with things both wonderful and fearful, and ultimately all of the mind.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Christopher Orr
The New Republic
October 15, 2009
Where the Wild Things Are may not be a great film for children (or, at least, most children). But it is something rarer still: a great, and unsparing, film about childhood.
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Eric D. Snider
Film.com
October 15, 2009
The film is lacking as a whole -- it's individual moments and scenes that make it worth seeing.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
October 15, 2009
Jonze's ideas, visual and otherwise, spill out in a faux-philosophical ramble that isn't nearly as deep as he thinks it is; at best, it's a scrambled tone poem. Even the look of the picture becomes tiresome after a while.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
October 15, 2009
Where the Wild Things Are is a fiercely innovative film with surprising texture and nuance. It captures the joy and exuberance of childhood without shying away from its very real pains and woes.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
October 15, 2009
Where the Wild Things Are honors the book in every imaginable way, and in ways no one could have imagined until Spike Jonze and his collaborators came along.
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
October 15, 2009
Sometimes you are better off with 10 sentences than tens of millions of dollars, and this is one of those times.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
October 15, 2009
Where the Wild Things Are is an alternately perfect and imperfect if always beautiful adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children's book.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
October 15, 2009
For all the money spent, the film's success is best measured by its simplicity and the purity of its innovation. Jonze has filmed a fantasy as if it were absolutely real, allowing us to see the world as Max sees it, full of beauty and terror.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 15, 2009
In an era glutted with sanitized, prefabricated, computer-generated kids' stuff, this is an experience of sophisticated cross-generational appeal. It digs deep into childhood's bright, manic exuberance and also its confusion and gloom.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
October 15, 2009
Some children, I think, will love this film, some will find it frightening, and some will be bored. Adults, likely, will experience it the same way.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
October 15, 2009
It's a qualified pleasure, now, to say that the movie is not a disaster -- in fact, parts of it are miraculous -- and that it is still, very much, a Spike Jonze movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
October 15, 2009
The movie is a wild thing, and that's not such a bad thing at all.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
October 15, 2009
With Sendak's blessing, and with the aid of writer Dave Eggers, who teamed on the screenplay, Jonze has transformed the iconic picture book into a satisfyingly moody, melancholy, madcap live-action romp.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Josh Modell
AV Club
October 15, 2009
Spike Jonze has recently said in interviews that his chief goal in adapting Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are was to try to capture the feeling of being 9. By that measure -- by just about any measure, really -- he succeeded wildly.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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James Rocchi
MSN Movies
October 15, 2009
"Where the Wild Things Are" is a great film because, for all of its wonder and magic and delight, it also knows about confusion and reality and sadness.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Dana Stevens
Slate
October 15, 2009
Jonze and Eggers' approach to the book is both original and well-intentioned; it's clear that they take both Sendak and childhood seriously (though not as seriously as they take themselves). It's just too bad the end result isn't a better movie.
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
October 15, 2009
The film lacks the menace and danger of Sendak's book, along with the beautiful simplicity and delicated, understated portrait of a lonely, misunderstood boy.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
October 15, 2009
The film treats kids' inner lives as more than a fantasy, which is a rare and beautiful thing.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
October 15, 2009
The result is an involving experience for all but the most fidgety children and an opportunity for parents to enjoy (rather than endure) a motion picture with their offspring.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
October 15, 2009
A fairly beguiling screen experience, though by the end of its 101 minutes I was definitely ready for bed.
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Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
October 15, 2009
Jonze and Eggers have added a lot without betraying a thing.
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
October 15, 2009
There's a certain amount of pain in Where the Wild Things Are, but it's completely earned. The movie fills you with all sorts of feelings, and I suspect children will recognize those feelings as their own.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
October 15, 2009
Jonze and Eggers have a firm grasp on the way a child's joy can quickly turn to tears, but they squeeze hard and can't let go. The film is essentially a parade of negative emotions -- sorrow, anger, jealousy, regret.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
October 15, 2009
The plot is simple stuff, spread fairly thin in terms of events but portentous in terms of meaning. It comes down to: What is right? -- a question that children often seek answers to.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 14, 2009
To their credit, the creative team has retained the handmade look and unruly spirit of Maurice Sendak's bedtime fable; to their discredit, they haven't added enough narrative or emotional dimension to make it an effective movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Mary F. Pols
TIME Magazine
October 14, 2009
The beasts are recognizable from Sendak's pages, but Jonze gives them names and distinct personalities that connect to aspects of Max's psyche and to the people he loves. (Freud would adore this movie.)
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
October 14, 2009
Profoundly beautiful and affecting, Where the Wild Things Are is a breath-
taking act of artistic transubstantiation.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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J. Hoberman
Village Voice
October 14, 2009
Wild Things isn't overlong, but it is underwhelming.
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
October 14, 2009
There is some real magic here. But there is also the feeling that something's missing, that Max's journey isn't quite complete; the dour mood of the monsters doesn't help.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
October 14, 2009
As a children's film, it's a bore. And as a grand film enterprise, Where the Wild Things Are skirts the line between folly and fiasco.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Sara Vilkomerson
New York Observer
October 14, 2009
Something doesn't quite jell, and no matter how gorgeous each set piece is, it doesn't always entirely add up to a complete and satisfying narrative. I couldn't help but think, from time to time, how on earth were these guys allowed to make this movie?
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
October 13, 2009
It's a gorgeous film: This may sound contradictory, but it's intricate and rough-hewn at the same time, dreamlike and earthy.
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
October 12, 2009
Director Spike Jonze's sharp instincts and vibrant visual style can't quite compensate for the lack of narrative eventfulness that increasingly bogs down this bright-minded picture.
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A.O. Scott
At the Movies
October 12, 2009
These monsters that are made of costumes with CGI faces and voiced by these wonderful actors, they're just as real and as complicated as the real people.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
October 12, 2009
A reverential but uninvolving adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic illustrated book for children.
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David Denby
New Yorker
October 12, 2009
I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy?
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
October 12, 2009
Instead of being bombarded by computer illusions, we're allowed to suspend our disbelief, to bring our own imaginations into play. For all the artfulness, the feel of the film is rough-hewn, almost primitive. It's a fabulous tree house of a movie.