By Alex Florez
The night that ‘Max put on a wolf suit and started doing one shenanigan after another’ marked the moment in my childhood when I let my imagination run wild. I’m referring to the boy in that fantasy book written by Maurice Sendak, who later finds himself in a forest ‘Where The Wild Things Are.’
When I found out that the filmmaker Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) had the intention of adapting a classic of children’s literature to the big screen, I was easily excited. However, the great expectations that came along with the making of the film were enough to worry me. How loyal would the film be to the book? And most importantly, how would they stretch out a story of just a few pages so that it would work as a movie?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the book is about a boy named Max who gets sent to bed early for his bad behavior. But he ends up escaping to a forest where he is accompanied by a family of wild creatures. As is traditional in children’s books, ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ has a moral to its story, but I remember it mostly for it’s surrealist world. Something Jonze’s film also succeeds at, but regrettably as a movie ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ falls short.
Here’s the problem: the film doesn’t have enough plot to push the story forward. Since the book is short, Jonze has no choice but to come up with something to further develop the movie. However, the filmmaker doesn’t risk quite enough to make things interesting. Instead he opts to show us filler – like extended sequences of Max playing with his monsters. And that’s just not filmmaking. Although the costuming, the special effects and the wonderful soundtrack do an amazing job of bringing the book to life, the captivating moments are rare. Simply put, the book would have been better served as an exceptional short-film.
‘Where The Wild Things Are’ is one of the all time classic bedtime stories, but when it also puts you to sleep in the movie theater, that’s not a good sign.
Rated: PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language.
Release Date: 2009-10-16
Screenplay: Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers, Maurice Sendak (book)
Official Website: http://wherethewildthingsare.warnerbros.com/