Synopsis: When Max is sent to his room for misbehaving he imagines he sails away to where the wild things are and becomes king of the wild creatures world.
Release Date: October 16, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Children and Family, Fantasy
“Let the wild rumpus start!” Just as Max shouts this out in Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book, perfectly cast Max Records shoots this first order of business as king of “Where the Wild Things Are” into the sky and throughout the entire film. This movie is not only a wildly fun time, but also a turbulent and poignant piece of art. Being 9 years old is both simple and complex. On one hand a boy’s only concern is to let his imagination run free, building igloos in the snow and rocket ship forts in the living room. On the other hand, life’s overwhelming ideas of love, death, divorce, separation, loneliness, and even existence is complicated stuff for any adult and so one can only imagine what a child goes through when trying to make sense of the world around him. Max results to visually striking bouts of mischief, violence, and temper tantrums. For him, Where the Wild Things Are ultimately lies within his heart and we are more than happy to be invited into this beautiful, terrifying, and undoubtedly personal space. Not since Dorothy left for Oz in 1939 has the journey home felt so emotionally profound.
What better way to accompany an atypical movie than with an atypical score? The entire soundtrack and score of the film is done by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the “Kids”, a group of indie rockers with members from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs themselves, the Liars, Deerhunter, the Raconteurs and an actual chorus of children. The music is a mixture of acoustic guitar, occasional piano, light humming and full on folk-pop songs complete with choruses and handclaps. The sound is simultaneously hip, innocent, scary, fun, and tender. The playfulness and mystery of being a child is perfectly captured.
God bless Spike Jonze. By refusing to gloss over this movie like a cliched children’s film or even a typical Hollywood project, Jonze has successfully preserved the anarchic spirit of Maurice Sendak’s much loved 1963 children’s publication. By not holding back any punches, the film ends up being raw, real, primitive, and artful. The movie’s episodic nature also holds true to the picture heavy source material. The story doesn’t conveniently unfold, but rather jumps from one memorably exciting game to the next: Let’s crash into the woods! Let’s play war!, Good Guys and Bad Guys! But Jonze makes the story just as much his as it is Sendak’s. Everything in the movie including the decision to use 9-foot tall puppets combined with the CG grafted faces of an impressive cast (James Gandolfini, Catherine O’ Hara, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker, and Paul Dano) is no doubt Spike Jonze. At the very beginning of the film Max mischievously chases his dog throughout the house. It’s true that this takes place in the book as well, but we feel that this is Spike Jonze as a kid, that we are about to enter a very personal piece of his own life. As a director, Jonze is inspiring in refusing to let the studios boss him around, in his innovation, his unique vision and sensibilities, and in his courage to express his childhood so lovingly bare.
The sunrise and sunset lit production design of “Where the Wild Things Are” is breathtakingly amazing. The woods, deserts, and mountainsides of Australia have been convincingly transformed into a magical terrain of crashing trees and exploding rubble. Everything from the muted browns, whites, and blues of the surrounding landscape to the occasional bursts of bright orange and violet suits the dreamlike world perfectly. And the craftsmanship put into every tree branch of the models and forts in the film is remarkable. After seeing the massive fort built at the end of the film, one can’t help but think about the love put into the work and the respect these talented production designers wholeheartedly deserve.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Spike JonzeVincent LandayMaurice Sendak
- Producer(s): Spike JonzeDave EggersCatherine Keener (Mom)
- Screenwriter(s): Max Records (Max)Mark Ruffalo (Boyfriend)Lauren Ambrose (voice of KW)
- Story: Chris Cooper (voice of Douglas)
- Cast: James Gandolfini (voice of Carol)Catherine O’Hara (voice of Judith)Forest Whitaker (voice of Ira) Paul Dano (voice of Alexander)James HaygoodEric ZumbrunnenLance ArnoldK.K. Barrett
- Editor(s): Casey Storm
- Cinematographer: Carter BurwellKaren O.
- Production Designer(s): Framestore
- Costume Designer: Quantum Creation FX
- Casting Director(s): Lloura
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA