Fantasy | 94 min
Everyone has that one childhood book that they hold near and dear to their heart. For a great many people, that book is Maurice Sendak’s 1963 “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Director Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are” tells a story of a young boy named Max who, after flying into a fit of rage at his mother, sails away to a fantastical island inhabited by a group of fuzzy monsters, the “wild things.” Jonze’s version of “The Wild Things” does not attempt to exactly emulate Sendak’s masterpiece. Instead, it takes an emotional note of the book and elaborates on it. Most notably, Jonze added a much darker feel to his version of the tale.
Throughout the film, Max grapples with feelings of rejection, loneliness and unabashed rage. These additions may make some dedicated fans of the book slightly uncomfortable, but they are a fitting change to a classic story brought into a new medium in a new time. Beyond that, the film is technically superb. The computer-generated imagery of the wild things’ faces is stunning; the art direction and set decoration is phenomenal; the score is perfectly flattering; and the lighting is absolutely fantastic.
This story isn’t really about what you know about the world and its inhabitants, it’s about how you feel about them, and Jonze succeeds marvelously in that regard. The film is genuinely funny, sad, terrifying and joyful all at the same time. Watching “Where the Wild Things Are” is truly an emotional ride that keeps you entertained the whole way through. Jonze’s version of this childhood classic is a wonderful movie experience, especially for anyone who fondly remembers the source material, as I suspect many of you do.