Where the Wild Things Are
“Just one more dune?”, You said that three dunes ago!


Golden Mug

WINNER:
Art Direction (K.K. Barrett & Simon McCutcheon)
Costume Design (Casey Storm)

NOMINEE:
Cinematography (Lance Acord)
Song (“Hideaway” by Karen O)

Theatrical Release Date: 10/16/2009
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Max Records, Pepita Emmerichs, Catherine Keener, Steve Mouzakis, Mark Ruffalo, James Gandolfini(voice), Paul Dano(voice), Catherine O’Hara(voice), Forest Whitaker(voice), Michael Berry Jr.(voice), Chris Cooper(voice), Lauren Ambrose(voice)

Based on the beloved children’s book, this 94 min rendition of Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” features a wildly, imaginative little boy and seven larger than life monsters. The film is impressively well done but also overwhelming depressing, making this adaptation much less kid-friendly and not nearly as light-hearted as the book.

From a production standpoint, thanks to Jim Henson’s creature shop, it was as if the monsters had leapt straight from the pages. The degree of detail and expressive nature of the costumes really brought the monsters to life and imbued each character with a unique personality.

The soundtrack is a combination of soothing lullaby-like melodies. Overall, the primarily instrumental soundtrack helps to reflect and magnify the wonder of a child’s imagination and the sadness of growing up.

I have always had a soft spot for the book, with fond childhood memories of it. I always loved Max’s (Max Records) rambunctious, impish ways and his inventive imagination. I loved the monsters, particularly Carol. James Gandolfini as Carol touched my heart and made me ache for my childhood. I loved the imagery and numerous touching moments interspersed throughout the movie.

What I disliked about this movie is a little more intangible, but has to do with the translation from written word to film. The actual book is very short. In fact, the text is only 10 sentences with a simplistic plot driven by one good, but mischievous boy’s imagination. The film did a good job stretching the material into a full-length movie, but the adaptation is dark and a little too scary for little ones. In good conscious, I can only recommend this for kids 10 years and up, creating my biggest problem with the movie. By adapting this book into a more adult themed movie, it becomes much less accessible to it’s original audience … children.

“Where the Wild Things Are” is a decent adaptation of a beloved book (a solid 3 out of 5), but is too scary for small children as the little one behind me made abundantly clear. I recommend that parents see this one first before taking children under 10 years of age.