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Where the Wild Things Are Reviews

Keith Uhlich
Time Out
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Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 2/5

November 17, 2011
Ben Walters
Time Out
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'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 Source: Time Out | Original Score: 4/5

December 11, 2009
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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[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.

October 16, 2009
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
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Wild Things, you do not make my heart sing.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 2/4

October 16, 2009
Tom Long
Detroit News
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Intellectually interesting, visually arresting and filled with invention, there's just one crucial thing Where the Wild Things Are is missing: wildness.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: C+

October 16, 2009
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
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Spike Jonze, we salute you.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 3.5/4

October 16, 2009
Nancy Churnin
Dallas Morning News
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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

October 16, 2009
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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This blend of the real and unreal is successful because Jonze's feeling for childhood binds everything together.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: B+

October 16, 2009
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
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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 Source: New York Post | Original Score: 2/4

October 16, 2009
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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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 Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

October 16, 2009
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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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 Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 4/4

October 16, 2009
Christopher Orr
The New Republic
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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.

Full Review Source: The New Republic

October 15, 2009
Eric D. Snider
Film.com
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The film is lacking as a whole -- it's individual moments and scenes that make it worth seeing.

Full Review Source: Film.com | Original Score: B-

October 15, 2009
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
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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.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

October 15, 2009
Claudia Puig
USA Today
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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 Source: USA Today | Original Score: 3.5/4

October 15, 2009
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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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.

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

October 15, 2009
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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Sometimes you are better off with 10 sentences than tens of millions of dollars, and this is one of those times.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 2/5

October 15, 2009
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
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Where the Wild Things Are is an alternately perfect and imperfect if always beautiful adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children's book.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 3.5/5

October 15, 2009
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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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 Source: Rolling Stone | Original Score: 4/4

October 15, 2009
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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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 Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 4/4

October 15, 2009
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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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 Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

October 15, 2009
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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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 Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 3/4

October 15, 2009
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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The movie is a wild thing, and that's not such a bad thing at all.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3/4

October 15, 2009
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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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 Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3/4

October 15, 2009
Josh Modell
AV Club
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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 Source: AV Club | Original Score: A-

October 15, 2009
James Rocchi
MSN Movies
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"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 Source: MSN Movies | Original Score: 4.5/5

October 15, 2009
Dana Stevens
Slate
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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.

Full Review Source: Slate

October 15, 2009
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
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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 Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 2/4

October 15, 2009
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
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The film treats kids' inner lives as more than a fantasy, which is a rare and beautiful thing.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 4/5

October 15, 2009
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
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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 Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 3/4

October 15, 2009
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
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A fairly beguiling screen experience, though by the end of its 101 minutes I was definitely ready for bed.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

October 15, 2009
Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
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Jonze and Eggers have added a lot without betraying a thing.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

October 15, 2009
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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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 Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 4/4

October 15, 2009
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
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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 Source: Newsday | Original Score: 2.5/4

October 15, 2009
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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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 Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3/4

October 15, 2009
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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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 Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Original Score: 2.5/4

October 14, 2009
Mary F. Pols
TIME Magazine
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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.)

Full Review Source: TIME Magazine

October 14, 2009
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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Profoundly beautiful and affecting, Where the Wild Things Are is a breath-
taking act of artistic transubstantiation.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: A

October 14, 2009
Keith Uhlich
Time Out New York
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There's an incessant disconnect between what we hear and what we see; the true soulfulness of Sendak's parable never emerges.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 2/5

October 14, 2009
J. Hoberman
Village Voice
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Wild Things isn't overlong, but it is underwhelming.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

October 14, 2009
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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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 Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 3.5/5

October 14, 2009
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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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 Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 2/5

October 14, 2009
Sara Vilkomerson
New York Observer
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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?

Full Review Source: New York Observer

October 14, 2009
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
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It's a gorgeous film: This may sound contradictory, but it's intricate and rough-hewn at the same time, dreamlike and earthy.

October 13, 2009
Todd McCarthy
Variety
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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.

Full Review Source: Variety

October 12, 2009
A.O. Scott
At the Movies
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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.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

October 12, 2009
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
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A reverential but uninvolving adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic illustrated book for children.

October 12, 2009
David Denby
New Yorker
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I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy?

Full Review Source: New Yorker

October 12, 2009
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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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.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

October 12, 2009
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