Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are; fantasy/ drama, USA, 2009; D: Spike Jonze, S: Max Records, James Gandolfini (voice), Lauren Ambrose (voice), Forest Whitaker (voice), Chris Cooper (voice), Catherine Keener

Max is a lonely and recalcitrant boy. After throwing snow balls at his sister's friends, they destroy his snow tunnel. When Max causes trouble for his mom's boyfriend, she gets angry at him. As a consequence, Max runs away from home and arrives with a boat to an island where giant furry creatures live. He makes friends with Carol, but he turns out to be equally as recalcitrant: he argues with everyone, destroys things and attacks Douglas. Max decides to leave the island. Carol is sorry for his behavior and howls after him. Max returns home and makes up with his mom.

Spike Jonze's live action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's eponymous children's book, "Where the Wild Things Are", is in equal measure a children's film as it is a film for grown ups, since its simplistic story actually carries a subtler leitmotif of growth, embodied in the sligthly autistic, antisocial and stubborn kid Max who actually realizes the error of his ways when he encounters those same traits in the antisocial and stubborn furry creature Carol, and learns - as it is often the case - the best when he sees himself from a different, distanced perspective. The narrative is exacerbated by Jonze's tendency for 'autistic' direction and dozens of uncessary cuts in each sequence, as well as the slightly irritating opening act, yet once the story takes steps towards this goal with a point, it actually aligns itself into a more harmonius whole. Some scenes may be a tad too bizarre - such as the one where the angry Carol rips off the hand of the feathered creature, Douglas, who lightheartedly says how "this was his favorite arm" and is later seen with a branch instead of it - and some larger grasp may not be in there, yet the film is surprisingly touching, original and measured overall. By far, the greatest grasp was achieved on the field of special effects that conjured up the furry creatures with an amazing and ground-breaking solutions, not seen since "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth".


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