13 October 2009 | Ross667-1
Review For "Where The Wild Things Are"
Running Time: An hour and a half MPAA Rating: PG Max is angry. He is imaginative and rambunctious, but he has no control. He knows that, like the sun, one day his energy will run out and he'll fade away. These are difficult thoughts for a young boy who already has the dilemmas of his age to deal with. Many people learn to cope with life's troubles in their own way, and Max does so by becoming a wild thing.
The movie adds some unique elements to the original Maurice Sendak storybook. Max's behavior is given a cause and his trip into the land of the wild things is given a purpose. Each of the creatures has a unique personality derived from Max's experiences with people in his homeland. Carol (played by James Gandolfini), whose anarchic and misunderstood nature Max immediately identifies with, specifically seems to provide the boy a means for coming to terms with the father now missing from his life.
What really brings this film to life is the music. Written by Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), the songs provide a youthful vigor that complements the action on screen. It was built from scratch for the movie and great use within each context shows. Energetic tracks filled with wild instrumentation and playground yells lend credence to the playful scenes in the movie, and Karen O's soft vocals fit in perfectly with the sentimental points.
Book purists won't be pleased to learn the extent of added material, of course, but may find comfort in the heavy involvement of the original author in the making of this film. Spike Jonze was specifically given the permission of the author, who had previously seen and highly regarded his work. Although this film does take much of the mystery and imagination out of the hands of the viewer, Sendak has given his personal approval of the interpretation after viewing the final product.
In the end, this movie wasn't quite what it could have been. It loses some of its steam toward the middle, when certain scenes feel as though they've been drawn out as long as possible to give the movie a bump to above the acceptable hour and a half mark. There are more shaky-cam running scenes in the film than an episode of "24", which could have easily become redundant and intolerable had it not been for the expressive and enthralling soundtrack. Fortunately, the movie manages to work as presented, and members of the audience may be inspired to search out the wild things within themselves once more.
The easily queasy should be warned; much of this movie is shot by hand-held camera, leading to what has become known as the "shaky-cam" effect. This can work out of some viewers' favor, but shouldn't provide a problem for the majority of audience members.