The childhood staple “Where the Wild Things Are” has returned with the recent release of a live-action feature film adaptation which has earned a respectable $32.7 million in its opening weekend.
At one time or another many of us read the simple yet captivating story of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Like the book, we are first introduced to Max, played by Max Records, an attention starved young boy whose only solace from the harsh reality of life is the imaginary world he creates.
After one particularly bad tantrum, he runs away from home to another world inhabited by gigantic creatures known simply as the Wild Things.
This odd group of misfits consists of memorable characters, such as the perpetualy depressed Judith, voiced by Catherine O’Hara, the dependable Douglass, voiced by Chris Cooper, and the moody behemoth Carol, voiced by James Gandolfini.
At first the Wild Things are quick to try and eat him, but thanks to his wit and imagination, Max manages to convince them that he is a great king capable of bringing happiness to their world.
The Wild Things, who are just as desperate for happiness as Max, gladly accept him into their family. From this point on the movie evolves from its basic outline in the book, conveying a much more poignant tale of childhood.
Most children would see this story as a boy liberated by his imagination, but the creativity of director Spike Jonze and writer Dave Eggers has allowed it to represent much more. The movie examines the individual character of each Wild Thing, no longer just a single tribe unit; unlike the book, they are given names and back-stories, most of which are as heart-shattering as Max’s story.
By giving deeper insight into each of the Wild Things and their connections to Max, we can see that they are not so different from him and simply wish to be happy as well. The Wild Things take on a more human role than any other human in the film, except for Max.
From the title shot until the credits roll, audiences will be mesmerized by the world created around one of the most beloved children’s books of all time. Be prepared to laugh and to cry because this film pulls no punches. Viewers will walk away with a hard hitting experience of what it truly means to be a child today.
For anyone who read the book when they were younger, this version offers discernable adult oriented views as well as the classic themes of the original story. The audience will remember the power of imagination, and more importantly, as the trailer says, “Inside all of us is a Wild Thing,” indeed.
Chris Spall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.