TRAVIS Reviews: Where the Wild Things Are

Either way, everyone will take an adamant stance on this emotional-kid-slash-grown-up-roller-coaster of a movie.

I still recall first viewing the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are back in the Spring with Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” blaring and swiftly returning to my childhood,  like a dog fetching a Frisbee. Damn was I excited. And with all pressure building, let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed when I sat down for this nostalgia-building film– and disappointment was something I was getting used to after this summer’s shoddy collection of trash films.

But like every critic (aka. blogger) is going to state in every review of WTWTA, yes, I read, and currently own, the 9-line picture book. Which is a good place to start, because when Maurice Sendak released the children’s story back in the ’60s, it was a complete dud. The critic’s chewed it up… until kids continued to consume it en masse. Now it’s a classic.

Same thing might happen here.

At the heart of this film (and book) is imagination and rebellion. The young wayward protagonist, Max, begins to see the shit that happens when you grow up — misunderstanding parents, lousy teachers, older siblings inter alia. So he escapes. At which point the movie softly slides into its perfect segue of adventure, the reason why everyone is sitting in the audience.

After seeing the movie last night, I’m not going to lie, I’m still trying to quantify it. I’m still mulling over what I took away as I type. And, because of this, I think Spike Jonze succeeded in this quasi-art film. Sure, it’s definitely poignant in parts, touching even. As believable, yet dissimilar vehicles, the characters deliver the film’s emotion — and emotion both abounds and deftly jumps from joy, fear, hate, happiness, sadness and then cycles again. Something, we might all recall, that happens a lot when we were younger. See: emotional roller coaster.

Aside from brilliant casting of the voice actors for each wild thing — James Gandolfini rocks a perfect “Carol,” the main wild thing — and Max Records cast fittingly as Max, the laconic speech in the film is apt. The story doesn’t necessarily move forward through talk, but more so through the varying emotions delivered from the wild things with their round, yellow eyes and tell-all faces. Same goes for the score. Karen O and the Kids adds the perfect soundtrack that really drives certain moments throughout the film. It’s spot on in most cases, especially for the dramatic scenes.

But the aspect that I’m still chopping up is the film’s main demographic. Like the book, the film doesn’t shy away from the darker overtones of growing up. And, because of this, it’s layered — kids that watch this won’t get everything, but they’ll surely relate. Adults, conversely, will either embrace it with its beautiful cinematography and touching sequences or toss it aside because of a lackluster story with choppy character development.

No matter, because in five years, just like the book, it will be a cherished tome by all. Count on it.

–Ryan Bolton, Editor-in-Chief

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    • Anonymous
    • October 18th, 2009

    This movie did nothing but scare children. It is also a little too deep for children to understand. Its has vilonce in it and its supposed to be a love story. Also the Mom and the sister were very cruel too so if you want your kid to think of you that way and there siblings that way your better off not seeing the movie.The movie should only be seen by 12 and up people.WE VOTE NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous
    • October 18th, 2009

    This movie did nothing but scare children. It is also a little too deep for children to understand. Its has vilence in it and its supposed to be a love story. Also the Mom and the sister were very cruel too so if you want your kid to think of you that way and there siblings that way your better off not seeing the movie.The movie should only be seen by 12 and up people.WE VOTE NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. it’s interesting how polarizing this movie is, some people say WTWTA is the best movie of the year and other say it’s the worst; i myself tend to lean toward the latter opinion just because it didn’t really have a plot

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