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Merrick here...
Charlie sent in this report from last night's benefit screening of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE in Chicago (event details HERE).
Here's Charlie's report - notes presented in red have been added by me for context.
I just walked in the door from attending the Chicago premiere of Where The Wild Things Are, which was introduced by (screenwriter) Dave Eggers and Max Records ("Max" in the film), and followed by a Q&A with Catherine Keener ("Mom") and (co-writer/director) Spike Jonze. The night was amazing, as everyone involved in the production was none too shy about relaying their experiences working on the project. A story about Jonze making Keener stand off-camera, drenched in fake blood in order to garner a genuinely scared reaction from Max, was just one of the highlights. As for the film itself, the audience was engrossed the minute the opening Warner Brothers logo came up, designed as if Max had drawn it to put on the fridge. The tumultuous journey from concept to screen, filled with studio concerns and re-shoots, fades away, and the audience is simply left with a stunning vision of childhood, made with great love and care from everyone involved. The film's opening scenes, as Max attacks his teenage sister's friends with snowballs from an igloo fort, involves you in a way that simultaneously builds character while conjuring up uncomfortable past feelings. Everyone remembers as a child the exact moment when a group game, full of fun and inventiveness, swiftly turns into panic, pain, and intense fear, and when one boy "playfully" smothers Max beneath his collapsed fort, you instantly understand the world that Jonze has fought so hard to suitably realize. After a somewhat awkward, heated confrontation with his mother, played wonderfully by Keener, the film then provides a swift transition into the Land of the Wild Things, where Max is introduced and promptly made King by said beastly creatures. I had some hesitance accepting the Wild Things as presented in the trailer, but I'm happy to report that the various effects, CG and practical, come together beautifully in the final product. Almost WETA-level detail is given to every element of the production design, and they go a long way into fully immersing you in the numerous locations, shot on the gorgeous landscapes of Australia. The Wild Things are remarkable, suitably walk the line between lighthearted, mischievous, and terrifying, especially towards the end when Max's position as ruler starts to slowly crumble. Unfortunately, the script does not match the design in terms of quality, which most were expecting anyway, given the extremely bare narrative of the original work. Jones and Eggers do a fine job developing memorable characters, but they strangely chose to include a love quadrangle involving the Wild Things voiced by James Gandolfini and Lauren Ambrose. It strikes a uneven tone with the rest of the story, but luckily the film sticks largely to Max's journey, which Max Records portrays brilliantly. His performance nears the same naturalistic levels of Catinca Untaru from The Fall, effortlessly balancing the curiosity and fear that his character possesses. Additionally, some may find the dramatic weight to be somewhat light, as most developments hinge around such events as getting hurt in a wrestling match, but that is the world in which these characters exist. The film is seen through the eyes of Max, and you must keep that in mind as you progress through the film. Personally, I thought Jonze did an unbelievable job, and I believe most will feel the same way once they finally get a glimpse of his unique vision. If you use this, call me Charlie.

The film opens October 16. Can't wait.

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:57 a.m. CST


    by Don_Logan

    this is one i'm definitely looking forward to.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to this!

    by LastOfTheV8Interceptors

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST

    James Gandalfini

    by alan_poon

    Cannae fookin wait to see this film.Glad to hear it's not a total fuck up.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:01 a.m. CST

    The script was not good and that's ok?

    by YackBacker

    They all don't need to be CITIZEN KANE, but still... whatever, this movie will make a shitload of money no matter what's wrong with it.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:02 a.m. CST

    Sounds good.

    by Marxeffect

    Nice review!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Child abuse?

    by HoboCode

    Scaring the living shit out of a minor to get a genuine scared reaction? WTF? That's not acting.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:08 a.m. CST

    Glad the drama is kept to something that

    by beastie

    a kid can relate to. Nothing too heavy.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:10 a.m. CST


    by LastOfTheV8Interceptors

    That's one of the oldest tricks in the book believe it or not! No wonder some child actors end up being so jacked up. Think I read somewhere that they used tell Shirley Temple crap like her puppy died when they needed her to cry in a scene. Could be an urban legend though... but still.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Who are the ad wizards...

    by wampa 1

    ...that came up with this one?

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Love quadrangle?

    by Bass Ackwards

    Would a quadrangle also be called a square? And who are the other two parted to this quadrangle?

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:20 a.m. CST


    by FeralAngel

    To be specific, man in big furry unconvincing Muppet suit. And, from the look of the trailers, not nearly as much fun as the Godzilla movies I watched as a kid. Now THOSE were Man in Suit movies!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:20 a.m. CST


    by Nice Marmot

    GANDALFini? I'm cracking up thinking of an Italian wizard in Jersey.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:26 a.m. CST

    is it really a muppet suit?

    by Bouncy X

    since the heads are all CGI. its probably just a furry suit without the head. :P

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:26 a.m. CST

    why is this being released in October?

    by Jared

    I would think this is a perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas release?

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:30 a.m. CST


    by Series7

    I guess this guy thinks we (talkbackers) are fucking retarded? Seriously what’s the fucking deal with the red? Where The Wild Things Are (Movie title). Charlie (name of reviewer). October 16 (date of release). Can't wait (Merrick's inability to wait for this film to come out).

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:33 a.m. CST


    by tomcruise1

    I'm so pumped for this. For more reviews head to

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Did anyone

    by Series7

    Read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs as a kid? How is that we have both these adaptations coming out this close to each other? Seriously HOW DOES THAT ALWAYS HAPPEN? Next you've got The Road and Book of Eli.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Hey,Karen O has done the soundtrack

    by brock landers baby

    And it's so much fun!!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Are they releasing Jonze's version?

    by ricarleite2

    Or was he forced to reshoot it?

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:49 a.m. CST

    Karen O and fun

    by Series7

    Don't seem to go together. Some of their stuff is good, but most of it makes me think that if she was punched in the face by Ryan Phillipe she'd be a lot better.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:52 a.m. CST

    I bought the soundtrack last night ...

    by Dollar Bird

    and it's charming and understated. Nice job, Karen. The Dave Eggars short story in the New Yorker a few weeks back was really nice, too. I once was in absolute denial that this movie could be anything but an abomination, but everything I have seen and heard has made me want to see it more and more.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 11:58 a.m. CST


    by BringingSexyBack

    Looks great.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:02 p.m. CST

    Looking forward to skipping it

    by BoRock_A_Boomer

    Because it looks like pigshit

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:24 p.m. CST

    The trailer for this film is alluring

    by REVENGE_of_FETT

    Honestly I haven't seen a trailer this effective in quite some time. I loved the book as a kid just like everyone else so i'm very interested in seeing Jones' unique take on the material.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Dollar Bird

    by eric haislar

    Listening to the soundtrack right now it is wonderful.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:39 p.m. CST

    Sorry but James is terrible voice actor!

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    I like the big lug but he sounded way too much like Tony Soprano in the previews! I thought maybe I was nitpicking but it really annoying!<p>This is why I wish true voice actors would sometimes be considered for the job instead of celebrities. Oh well maybe it'll be ok.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:44 p.m. CST

    Muppet heads

    by menstrual_blitz

    They tried to have fully operational muppet heads with animatronics, but they were too heavy and the actors were toppling over. So they ripped out the machines and CG'ed in facial movements, blinking, etc.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Kid actors

    by menstrual_blitz

    Not sure about Shirley Temple, but when Jackie Cooper was making Skippy the director told him he was gonna shoot his dog if he didn't cry!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:47 p.m. CST

    What's the soundtrack like?

    by menstrual_blitz

    Please do not say "indie rock."

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:48 p.m. CST


    by Series7

    totally agree with you about James. It sounded like he was catching his breath after eating a large pastrami sandwich.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:49 p.m. CST


    by Series7

    indie rock! Throw on your tight jeans and neon t-shirt, make your hair look like a retard and BAM! Hip to the bone.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Spike should have gotten The beasties

    by Series7

    To make a musical score to this movie, donate the money to some cancer found.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1 p.m. CST

    "make your hair look like a retard"

    by menstrual_blitz

    Ahahahahahaha! <p> Series, you crack me up.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 1:17 p.m. CST

    wtf Bloodfart??

    by menstrual_blitz

    But I ate Liev Schreiber...

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:05 p.m. CST

    I hope the music score for this...

    by Cervantes good. Still wonderin' if the settings resemble the original book's atmospheric leafy tree-filled (Jungle/woods-like vibe) look or not.<P>Or is it just filled with not-as-atmospheric open desert-like 'outback' settings now?...

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Go inside the candy mountain cave, Charlie

    by iamnicksaicnsn

    Charlie found candy mountain! Charlie! Charlie! <p> I actually really hate this video, but seeing Charlie and Where The Wild Things Are inevitably made me think of it.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Thank god for retards!

    by REVENGE_of_FETT

    <p>Where would this site be without them?</p><p>"Make your hair look like a stupid guy" or "poking a stupid guy with a stick" just doesn't have the same ring.</p><p>Rocky just wouldn't be the same without that guy telling him "Taker her to the zoo. I hear retards like the zoo". of course, that was before Sly actually had a retard child. he probably cringes at that line now.</p>

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:50 p.m. CST

    Where My Enthusiasm Ain't...

    by HarryCalder

    Just can't get it up for this movie. Spike's awesome, trailer looks good, just didn't dig the book that much as a kid. Is this still a "timeless classic" that chillin today are into? Gut tells me no.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 2:56 p.m. CST

    streaming soundtrack

    by natedog01

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:14 p.m. CST

    very excited for this movie

    by supercowbell5THECOWBELLHASSPOKEN

    jacked off the the trailer 3 times this morning fuck im tired

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:15 p.m. CST

    i meant " i jacked off to the trailer 3 times this morning"

    by supercowbell5THECOWBELLHASSPOKEN

    god this site needs a edit button

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 3:40 p.m. CST

    "some may find the dramatic weight to be somewhat light"

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    Uh, yeah it's from a children's book so I'd hope it wouldn't get too heavy. This sentence conjures images of film majors in berets critiquing the mise en scene of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Wild Things? Are you Sure?

    by awardgiver

    I hope this isnt as boring as the trailer makes it look. The Wild Things don't look wild, but really tired and emo. I seem to remember the film strip and the book looking more exciting as a kid than this movie. And yes, if it has an indie rock soundtrack, spike jones must be put out of his misery.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:31 p.m. CST

    I know wild and I didn't see anything wild !

    by KingDingaLing

    Tame-ass trailer. The movie should be in the tradition of "Lord of the Flies" That would be WILD! lol

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Would've been nice to know about the screening BEFORE it happene

    by gruntybear

    Since I live in Chicago and all . . . *grump*

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 4:49 p.m. CST

    I can't wait to see this movie, but I have to

    by SoylentMean

    Fuck you, time-space continuum...

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Max needed some escapism becaus his mom's a whore.

    by Onin Solstice

    Kids with parents who are drunks, easy or violent have the most powerful imagination.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 5:24 p.m. CST

    Its a movie

    by BoopyBeepy

    "As for the film itself, the audience was engrossed the minute the opening Warner Brothers logo came up, designed as if Max had drawn it to put on the fridge." Really the whole audience was shitting themselves over a studio logo? There's something evil and condescending about this movie.Fake emotion, indie, hipster kid movie, trying to hit every annoying demographic.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 5:27 p.m. CST




  • Sept. 30, 2009, 5:28 p.m. CST



  • Sept. 30, 2009, 5:28 p.m. CST


    by supercowbell5THECOWBELLHASSPOKEN

    the dark knights logo just sitting there silent and harry potter 3's close dark zoom up with the awesomely dark music playing letting you know your in for a harry potter movie that wasnt some happy go lucky candyland bullshit like the first 2. IT HAD THE WARNER BROTHERS LOGO GAME ON LOCK!!!

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 5:28 p.m. CST




  • Sept. 30, 2009, 7:29 p.m. CST

    Never got the fascination with this story book

    by Alfie Boy

    And it came out when I was a kid. Just don't get it.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 7:30 p.m. CST

    I think it's probably time to close this site...

    by angranoid

    It seems anybody with a rational opinion has moved on and left the place to a bunch of fucking losers who justify their meaningless existences by declaring every single thing to be "fucking retarded" or "gay" etc.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 7:39 p.m. CST


    by BoopyBeepy

    Nobody really, seriously, justifies their existence by posting on this site. Thats a kind of straw man I think.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 9:40 p.m. CST

    Can't wait

    by criticalbliss

    Looks magical.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:17 p.m. CST

    "Nice" - cool way to start the thread

    by BoE

    My sentiments exactly. It takes some doing to get past expectations of tiresome ironical edginess. Could be the beer typing, but I got a good chill when I first saw the trailer and I've been looking forward to it ever since - in spite of those hipster "Max" douche suits Urban Outfitters is now peddling. Weirdly important material - nice to know they got guys like Jonze and Eggers carry the water. An aside - Gandolfini's voice is a tractor (tracter? dunno - not a star wars guy) beam. Remember him in True Romance? The guy really is amazing...

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:19 p.m. CST

    angranoid don't be retarded

    by Xiphos_2

    because that's fucking gay.

  • Sept. 30, 2009, 10:38 p.m. CST

    Will this bomb? Probably.

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 1:59 a.m. CST

    Guaranteed to Fail

    by ThusSpakeSpymunk

    $17-20m opening, quick dive. People hate whimsiscal stuff, also movies with kids as heroes. Fail. It'll probably be pretty good as a movie, but fail.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 3:32 a.m. CST

    and failing matters why?

    by thefourthman

    good job dorks, it will probably bomb. its a hard to market, personal project..... way to see that coming. what does that have to do with it being a quality flick? god damn, these threads are full of hateful nerds. if you love movies enjoy them, if you dont...shut the fuck up an quit acting like you write for variety from your parents basement.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 5:26 a.m. CST

    Troll 2 is wilder than this flick

    by KingDingaLing

    Bring back Uncle Seth and the Double-Decker Baloney sandwich!

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 7:10 a.m. CST

    Kids today need more fucked up movies...

    by Fart_Master_Flex

    Which is why I loved Coraline. It reminded of things that used to scare me as a child (like Labryinth). Today we mainly see 3D CGI shit where 30 minutes can't pass without a cute animal farting. I am glad to see something fucked up and potentially scary for little kids. They need that. That is what invigorates imagination. Not cute little farting creatures.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Looks absolutely splendid.

    by knowthyself

    Cannot wait. I have an inkling this is going to be one of the best films of the year.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:01 a.m. CST

    Catherine Keener ("Mom")

    by Series7

    I don't understand how she always comes off as a complete bitch in films ("Movies") she is in ("Being John Malcovitch","Into The Wild", "Hamlet 2") even when she is trying to be a nice person ("40 Year Old Virgin")? I thought that was just her ("Catherine Keener") but I've seen her on late night show ("The Late Show With David Letterman", "Late Night With Conan O'Brien") and she came off as very nice? <P> Notes presented in parenthesis have been added by me for context.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Disappointed that Arcade Fire's re-recorded WAKE UP not on sound

    by riskebiz

    I'm isappointed that Arcade Fire's re-recorded WAKE UP not on soundtrack. That song seemed to work beautifully and perfectly in the trailer and went a long way to getting excited about this film. I've seen that the soundtrack is strictly songs by Spike's old girlfriend Karen O ... and that is disappointing. I surely wish Arcade Fire's song was a part of it.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:41 a.m. CST

    trailer songs

    by Series7

    Are hardly ever on the soundtrack. Trailers are rarely ever done by the people making the movie, they are done by an outside company. Sure Spike probably had a poopfull of involvment in imput, but I bet it was a different company.

  • Oct. 1, 2009, 10:53 p.m. CST


    by JuntMonkey

    Agree that the movie (from the trailers and advertising and what we've heard of it) seems like it might be really condescending and manipulative and "indie hip". I know that I'm in the extreme minority, but I hated that first trailer so much. People were watching it and crying and saying how this would be the best movie ever and really captured childhood and growing up and lost innocence. WTF? None of that was present in the trailer - people just played right into the ad men's hands by eating up the Arcade Fire song (which does ALL of the work) and tearing up. The trailer turned me from neutral/slightly positive to extremely negative.