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Friday, October 16, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are


Release Date: October 16th, 2009

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action, and brief language.

Running time: 94 minutes

Spike Jonze (dir.)

Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, John Carls, Maurice Sendak, and Vincent Landay (prod.)

Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers (Screenwriter)

Based on the book by Maurice Sendak

Karen O and Carter Burwell (music)

Max Records as Max

Pepita Emmerichs as Claire

Max Pfeifer, Madeleine Greaves, Joshua Jay, and Ryan Corr as Claire’s Friends

Catherine Keener as Mom

Steve Mouzakis as Teacher

Mark Ruffalo as The Boyfriend

Wild Things

James Gandolfini as Carol (voice)

Vincent Crowley as Carol (suit performer)

Paul Dano as Alexander (voice)

Sonny Gerasimowicz as Alexander (suit performer)

Catherine O’Hara as Judith (voice)

Nick Farnell as Judith (suit performer)

Forest Whitaker as Ira (voice)

Sam Longley as Ira (suit performer)

Michael Berry Jr. as The Bull (voice)

Angus Sampson as The Bull (suit performer)

Mark McCraken as The Bull (additional suit performer)

Chris Cooper as Douglas (voice)

John Leary as Douglas (suit performer)

Lauren Ambrose as KW (voice)

Alice Parkinson as KW (suit performer)

Garon Michael as KW (additional suit performer)

MAX RECORDS as Max in Warner Bros. Pictures’, Legendary Pictures’ and Village

Roadshow Pictures’ adventure film “Where the Wild Things Are,” a Warner Bros.

Pictures release.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Our reviews below:


Where The Wild Things Are Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

In adapting a book for the screen as popular as Maurice Sendak’s 1963 classic “Where The Wild Things Are”, it’s almost impossible to please everybody. And this film is definitely not for everyone. Even if this film had been made before readers had embraced the book as their own, a lot of people still wouldn’t have liked it. Having grown up with the book, I personally loved this movie. It’s hard to say how other directors would have handled this material, but one things for sure. There will never be another film quite like Spike Jonze’s vision of the story.

The CGI faces, that were put on to the Wild Things costumes in post-production, are just amazing. The facial expressions are beautifully emotional. A close-up of Carol’s face as he starts to break down, is one of the most heartbreaking and moving images in the film. I really cared about the Wild Things.

Being the only human on-screen for almost the entire movie, young Max Records, who was also excellent in the brilliant prologue to The Brothers Bloom, gives an amazing performance here. Rarely is there a performance by a child actor that hits all the right emotional notes. Max Records is a total natural.

The music by Karen O, of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is very well done and fits the mood of the film. The songs all beautifully fit over their scenes in the film, in particular the cover of the Daniel Johnson song “Worried Shoes” and “All Is Love”. Though I was slightly disappointed that the Arcade Fire song “Wake Up”, used in that beautiful first trailer, is not featured in the actual film.

Parents of young kids need to take caution. This adaptation of a classic bedtime story could very well induce nightmares. Some people have described it as a movie about childhood for adults, and that is a spot on description. I wouldn’t recommend taking anyone under, maybe 10. But honestly, you just have to judge your kid.

My only real complaint about the film is the shaky-cam. I didn’t mind it here as much as I have in other films, but it does make some of the action sequences a bit hard to follow.

Admittedly, Wild Things was not quite the masterpiece I was expecting, but that’s not saying it isn’t some sort of masterpiece. I think I’ll have a better idea about this upon second viewing. So for now I'll just go with "great movie".

This is a movie that doesn’t tell the audience what to think, and is almost stronger for it. It’s hard to make a film that’s going to please everyone, when the main character on-screen is so emotionally unsettled.

I think some people will love this film, some will hate it. I’d personally fall into the former category. It’s incredibly emotionally effecting, visually stunning, and at times just beautiful. It’s destined to become a classic, no matter how split people’s opinions are. Whatever you think of the finished product, whether you’ll start a rumpus out of love or hate, this film is every bit worth going out to see.


Where The Wild Things Are Review By Erin V.

***3/4 (out of 4)

The movie version of Where The Wild Things Are adds more backstory to the original book, giving us a reason for Max’s emotional meltdown the ‘night he wore his wolf suit’. While many may be shocked at just how dark this film is, I found it worked. We can understand what makes Max feel the way he does, and his conflicted feelings about how to deal with everything that is happening.

When he runs away, (a variation from the original book, where he was sent to his room), he ends up at the waters edge, where a boat is waiting. It is here that he sails away, at least in his imagination, to ‘where the Wild Things are’. The Wild Things themselves all represent a part of Max and the people around him in a way. They too have anxieties and fears, hopes and dreams, yet do not know how to appropriately deal with all that’s around them. It is here that Max is able to see his behaviour in others, and maybe truly begin to understand himself better?

I don’t really have much complaint with the fact that the world of the Wild Things is not a really happy one. After getting as upset as he did, Max’s imagination clearly took him to a place where he could examine and try to sort out what just happened. His trying to force that place to be what it isn’t, (trying to make it happy instantly), he realizes just doesn’t work.

The Wild Things are played by actors in wonderful costumes, which have amazingly emotional animated faces. The voice actors for each of them also do a great job. Max Records, the young actor who plays Max, also deserves recognition for his performance in this film. He plays Max genuinely, and believably - most of the time while acting alongside people in suits with not yet animated faces... The soundtrack to the film also works really well, with a combination of songs and original score tracks.

The only thing I found distracting was the shaking camera throughout many of the scenes. I look forward to seeing this again, but not so close to the screen this time. Still, a stedi-cam would have been welcomed here. Yes, a sense of Max’s mixed up and unsettled emotions may have been what was trying to be conveyed through the shaky-cam, but a technique only works if it is not so distracting that the audience blatantly thinks of it as just that - a technique. Especially a dizzying one...

This film takes a risk with how it presents itself. Does it succeed? Well, it depends who you ask, but forming your own opinion is probably the best bet. I think it is going to be personal whether people like the film or not. This being said, go see this one, but don’t bring young kids. It is as good as it is dark. With beautiful cinematography shot in Australia, this is an interesting film to see in theatres.


Where The Wild Things Are Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Where The Wild Things Are is a unique, well made, but very dark take on Maurice Sendak’s classic tale. We see the series of events that lead up to Max’s wild outburst, and are brought to a land where Wild Things abound. All the monsters from the original book now have names, and each of the characters resemble an aspect of Max’s emotional life. The Wild Things are both frightening and believable. Played by actors in furry suits, these creatures are beautiful, and at times terrifying to watch. Their world, consisting of earthy browns and grays, adds a sombre, organic feel to the film. The acting in this film is amazing. Young actor Max Records plays his troubled character disturbingly well. The Wild Things too, are well cast.

However, this film is not for everyone. I enjoyed it, but I can expect this movie to get mixed reviews. This film can be disturbing at times, and would not be suitable for children under at least 10. Also, in the film, Max runs away to the Wild Things home. (In the book, he dreams or imagines the Wild Things while in his room.)

Where the Wild Things are is worth seeing. Just leave the young kids at home.


Where The Wild Things Are Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Any parent who has witnessed a child have a major meltdown knows Wild Things really exist. Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” made us believe in wild things. Spike Jonze’s movie adaptation of this classic story brings the wild things to life.

The strength of this film is the wonderfully done puppetry and costuming of the Wild Things creatures. Each of the Wild Things are believable and emotionally engaging. The scenes with the creatures are impressive to watch. There is a lot of beautiful scenery in this movie showing the gentleness, strength, and even rage that can exist in nature all at the same time. My favorite visual scenes were the ones with Max and Wild Things walking across sand dunes. The other strength in this movie is the superb performance by young Max Records playing lead character, Max. Considering that most of his scenes were done with costumed creatures he gave a completely believable and very emotionally vulnerable performance.

As much as I enjoyed “Where the Wild Things Are” there were flaws that distracted me from enjoying it fully. My main complaint is with the shaky-cam technique used in many of the action sequences. I suppose the intent may have been to show the instability in Max’s world, however it just made me dizzy. This is also for the most part an emotionally - dark film. Max’s behavior and the behavior of the Wild Things are disturbing to watch. Parents beware - this is not a children’s adventure movie. It is a drama.

If you are a fan of Maurice Sendak’s original story, you will want to check this one out. The Wild Things look great on the big screen.


Where The Wild Things Are Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Written in 1963, Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are left a lot to the reader’s imagination. Director Spike Jonze has updated and filled out the story, giving voice and personalities to the individual Wild Things that many, particularly younger children, may find disturbing. The strong suggestion in the book that all adventures are confined to the boy Max’s bedroom dream is confused in the film when Max runs away before supper and gets into the boat where the dream presumably occurs. Max is given a backstory–an overworked mother courting a new boyfriend, an older sister too busy with her own friends to stand up for him when they crush his snow fort on top of him, and anxiety over his teacher’s prediction of the sun’s demise without mentioning the billions of years it will take. The various conflicts in Max’s life are brilliantly reflected in the ways the various Wild Things relate to each other and to Max.

The Wild Things are impressive–with their expressive CG faces they are never too scary to look at despite their horns and other monstrous features. In an excellent performance as Max, Max Records deserves the top billing he gets, supported by a fine cast. Unfortunately, the shaky handheld camera work, particularly in the opening snow scene, is not up to the level of the special effects. The musical score by Karen O and Carter Burwell provides a good accompaniment to the actions and emotions on the screen.


MAX RECORDS as Max in Warner Bros. Pictures’, Legendary Pictures’ and Village

Roadshow Pictures’ adventure film “Where the Wild Things Are,” a Warner Bros.

Pictures release.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


Consensus: Where The Wild Things Are is an interesting film, albiet a very dark one. This is a drama worth seeing for much older kids, teenagers and adults. ***1/2 (Out of 4)


MAX RECORDS as Max and CATHERINE KEENER as Mom in Warner Bros.

Pictures’, Legendary Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ adventure film

“Where the Wild Things Are,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Photo by Matt Nettheim

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