Jeff's Review of Where the Wild Things Are
Poor little Max. No one pays attention to him. He is a boy with a very active imagination and all he wants to do is play. His mother is struggling to keep her job, his sister is busy being a teenager and his father is no where to be found.
After a fight with his mother, Max runs away only to find himself on a distant island where he meets new creatures that become his friends. The wild things.
Maurice Sendack's beloved childrens book has been made into a major motion picture by director Spike Jonze. In any other director's lens this story might not have had the artistic value that Jonze brings to his films such as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. This movie could have easily found itself amongst the many childrens movies that are simple Saturday afternoon flair. I am happy to report that is not the case here.
What is really such a simple story speaks volumes, not only in the book version, but in the movie version as well. Since the book is extremely short the movie clearly needed to be fleshed out. This is done meticulously well to stay within the lines of the book. The book flows seamlessly into the movie version. Like all movies with animatronic characters, etc., one must suspend their beliefs for the length of the movie. If you are one to pick apart the fact that creatures like the wild things do not exist this is absolutely not the movie for you.
The voice actors are brilliantly cast with actors such as Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper and none other than Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini as Carol. Each actor voices their respective creature perfectly. It will be hard to see pictures of these creatures both in movie stills and in the original book and not think of their voices after viewing the film.
What also plays a separate character in the movie is the soundtrack. The soundtrack that Jonze has chosen to use is nothing you would expect. Using the sounds of Karen O and the Kids brings such a simplistic, alternative lullaby you almost can reach out and touch the notes. It accents the pictures on screen to a tee.
The movie, like the book, is quite simple. There is not a lot to it. What you see is what you get. However, this is very welcomed and refreshing, especially for such a beloved tale. The simple lines speak volumes and the volumes they speak are very simple.
You will take away from the film what you want and will imagine it to be what you will. Such are childhood dreams.