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Today is the day you can find out why WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE moved and inspired Capone and others!!!

Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Director and co-writer Spike Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers (AWAY WE GO) have given birth to a type of film that defies conventional film criticism. To say you loved, like, were neutral on, or hated their adaptation of Maurice Sendak's WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE doesn't quite get the job done. No, this work demands a far purer emotional response and deep psychological self-examination to get to the heart of why this telling of this very simple story gets to the root of what we are as human beings. Jonze might be better at this than any director working today. He doesn't thrust cold, therapeutic analysis at us. With films like BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION, he takes us by the hand and guides us into the often-scary world inside our collective mind and shared experiences as both children and adults. With WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Jonze and Eggers acknowledge the very real and often totally overlooked (at least in movies) fact that children's minds work in an awesomely different way than the minds of adults. So often in films, kids are written simply as tiny adults--smarter and more in control of their thoughts and feelings than any kid I've ever met. I'm not saying there aren't smart children; there are. But no matter how intelligent a child may be, you can't accelerate maturity. Even a kid with a high IQ can have a temper tantrum. In fact, the odds are pretty great that they will. In Wild Things, Max (played by the gifted Max Records) may or may not be smart, but he is highly creative and has an imagination that may be so highly refined it might be a hindrance rather than an asset. Dressed in his wolf costume for dinner, he climbs on a counter and demands that his mother (Catherine Keener) "Feed me, woman!" in his most booming voice, her reaction is a mixture of anger and humiliation (her new boyfriend--Mark Ruffalo--is in the next room). Max is a kid that resorts to low-level violence and destruction when he's angry. When his sister's friends accidentally hurt him during a snowball fight, his reaction is to trash her room. When mom attempts to calm him down, he bites her. Max is the product of a broken home. Attention is something he needs. When his mother is on the phone working to resolve a work issue, Max is at her feet tugging on her stockings in one of the sweetest moments in the film. But he's also an energetic boy, as the opening sequence shows us. He tears through the house, and Jonze somehow is able to keep up with him with his camera low to the ground like his playmate. The moment instantly helps us identify with Max by literally bringing us down to his level and seeing the world as he sees it. He seems to spend a great deal of time in tight quarters--forts, homemade igloos, under a pile of wild things, even hiding in one of their mouths at one point. The womb metaphor pretty much writes itself. So by the time we get to the part of the story we're more familiar with, Jonze and Eggers have established a backstory for Max that casts him and the tale in an entirely new and wonderfully original light. Max isn't just imagining a place where these rumpusing creatures live; he's escaping to that faraway place, away from his furious mother. I was utterly unprepared for this portion of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. To simply sum up the wild things as different elements of Max's personality isn't exactly right. One, I think, is meant to represent his mother; another is his sister. Using language and visual cues from Max's life, this world of imagination is built from scraps of Max's real-life world, the scraps that would matter most to a child. The character of Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) destroys things when he's hurt. When he feels abandoned by KW (Lauren Ambrose), he destroys just about everyone's huts, not unlike Max did with his sister's room. The filmmakers imply that the wild things are manifestations of Max's many stuffed animals; but their personalities are all by Max, who infuses these creatures with childlike thoughts and actions. Listen carefully to their conversations. They aren't about anything of substance, in the classic movie definition of the world. They are about building forts, digging, destroying, and sucking out the brains of anyone who doesn't belong. Max recognizes himself in several of the creatures. Judith (Catherine O'Hara is a skeptic and highly negative about anything people tell her she'll like. Chris Cooper's Douglas (with a bird-like body) is smart and thoughtful. Also on hand are Ira (Forest Whitaker), Alexander (Paul Dano) and the foreboding creature known only as The Bull. Max's new kingdom is a place where the boy sees his own behavior and attitude reflected back at him, and he becomes ashamed at the way he treated his mother. When Carol behaves like a destructive brat, Max tells him "You're out of control"--the exact words his mother used about him when they were fighting. It's a great slap-in-the-face moment that I'll remember forever. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE isn't about these spectacularly realized giants of fur and feathers and horns. The wild thing in Jonze and Eggers' story is Max, and the film is about him retreating to a place where he learns regret for emotionally betraying his mother. And none of this would matter were it not for Max Records' utterly accurate portrayal. There's no acting going on here. This kid comes across as so genuine--as both a loving son and a little shit--that you can't help but be blown away. And what about the creatures? I could look at them for years. The costumes have weight and complexity to them. You can see the center of gravity shift when one of them runs. You can't get that with CGI, but even the faces that are done digitally are flawlessly executed. The expressiveness is undeniable. You will fall in love with these characters and cry when it's time to say good-bye to them. It's just that simple. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is all sorts of glorious wonder in one sweeping package. That said, it was not a life-changing experience. For me, it was simply a life-affirming one. I'll somehow handle the disappointment. I've already said too much and spilled my guts more than I should have, but fuck it, this one is worth it. Just go see it, and bring with you all the baggage of your childhood, and prepare to have it partially exorcised if you're lucky. This is an incredibly moving and smart trip that I can't wait to watch repeatedly, and hear what others have to say about it. It's a little too soon for me to declare it the best film I've seen all year, but it's right up there.
-- Capone capone@aintitcoolmail.com Follow Me On Twitter



Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 16, 2009, 7:28 a.m. CST

    By the sound of it

    by CharyouTree

    all this Max needed was a fucking smack

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 7:47 a.m. CST

    I'm going to eat you up Charyoutree

    by Magnum Opus

    This movie looks amazing. Eggers is a giant.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:06 a.m. CST

    WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE:

    by FlickaPoo

    ...great movie, or greatest movie?

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST

    I wish I had liked it

    by God's Brother

    Man, do I ever wish I had liked it. I also wish I never saw it... I shoulda stopped at the trailer.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Pretention?

    by Aquatarkusman

    You make the call!

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:21 a.m. CST

    Yes but do kids like it?

    by SolomonBundy

    I don't like it when defenders of this movie get all holier than thou, saying that people who don't enjoy it are just don't understand it, or kids that are bored are just the products of cultural-reference, fart joke CGI movies. Or that they just feel sad towards people who don't enjoy it. To me, that just reeks of condescension.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Most anticipated film this year...

    by SpookyOtaku

    was my favorite as a child, can't wait for 6:30 pm this evening. Seeing it in Imax. Between this and Hillcoat's The Road, I think I will have two new favorites.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to this one

    by darklightning

    I read it so long ago , I cannot remember the details. so I'm going to watch it then look at the book with the kids to see what thats like. Spike Jonzes work always impresses me. Good visual style, lots of emotional content. Even when Christopher Walken is in the frame. yeah, i'm proper hype for this. Not really looking for an action flick. A monster flick. Thats how i'm gonna view it. Monster creature other worldly genie stuff.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:30 a.m. CST

    WHERE THE OPPOSING REVIEWS ARE

    by BringingSexyBack

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:34 a.m. CST

    SHOULD I GET BRING A DOUBLE ESPRESSO IN TO THE MOVIE?

    by BringingSexyBack

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:43 a.m. CST

    I don't know...

    by wampa 1

    ...but it sure smells good!

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:47 a.m. CST

    It must be good because Harry cried.

    by Yoda's Ball Sack

    Any tears Capone? Massawyrm had tears of relief...........that the movie was finally over.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:56 a.m. CST

    SolomonBundy

    by SpawnofAchilles

    From all accounts, it's not a kids movie, so who cares what kids think of it? It's a movie about a kid, that doesn't make it a kid's movie.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 8:57 a.m. CST

    Saw the midnight showing last night

    by KevinMuller

    This movie is such a success because it made a meaningful film out of a story that is incredibly short. This film is a HEAVILY character...or should I say monster driven story. The monsters are used to study our own behaviors as humans, with each possessing an extreme character trait. I personally loved the film, but I can see how many will not because they will go in expecting something different than what they are presented. On top of the great achievement with the characters and story, the art direction, effects, and feel of the picture is something really special. Go, but be warned, a lot of you maybe disappointed.... I sure as hell wasn't. The only thing that bothered me was a guy in my theatre was howling everytime one of the wild things was howling.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 9:39 a.m. CST

    The reality....

    by MonkeyManReturns

    If you had a happy childhood...had friends...got on with being a kid...played sports and did outdoor things, you will hate this movie... If you were a geek...the odd one out....the one who only had one or two close friends and were (still are geeky in that it controls your life and thinking)...were the goth, the nerd, the geek, the 'quiet' one...you will love this movie. That's why it has a 67% rating on Tomatoes. That's why some love it with all their heart, whilst others are indifferent. Make your own mind about it, I guess. But it certainly isn't the most anticipated movie of the year for the masses - like it is for the geeks. Not by a long shot.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 9:45 a.m. CST

    I hear it sucks

    by darth_fuck_shit

    Why is Aintitfatnews pushing this movie so hard?

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10 a.m. CST

    Where The Wild Things Are is a masterpiece

    by KubrickFan69

    I saw it last night at the midnight showing. It's every bit as special and awesome as anyone praising it is saying. I was hypnotized by it. Max Records gives a terrific performance and the creature work is genius. It's not the movie they are marketing it is.. but it's better than the movie they are marketing it as. Spike Jonze has taken the book and expanded it the most beautiful way possible. The crowd I saw it with I think were expecting something radically different..and i was in the minority of film geeks but I can't wait to see it again. Harry, your review was spot on.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10:14 a.m. CST

    inspired????

    by Series7

    What does this movie inspire you to do? Hang out with little kids?

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Wait, we're still bored with people who say "It sucks" —

    by blakindigo

    without describing why, right? Why yes, indeed we are…

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10:17 a.m. CST

    aint it hateful news?

    by RockLobster800

    Nobody is acknowledging a movie? "why not-ITS BRILLIANT!"People then pickup on that moive?"Its shit and overrated!!" A movie gets more than two positive reviews on this site? "Why is everyone so positive- I BET IT SUCKS!" A movie is a cliched blockbuster, CGI driven, emotionless, characterless mind numbing drivel? "it SUCKS-its a cliched blockbuster, CGI driven, emotionless, characterless mind numbing drivel!!" A movie gets kudos for being the opposite of that? "its boring pretentious crap-WHY ARENT THERE MORE NEGATIVE REVIEWS?!"...All this on site that had talkbackers complaining that Scott Pilgrim was being covered just because they hadnt heard of the book.I have to hand it to ya, the majourity of you guys are tough to please.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10:32 a.m. CST

    Yes, but, is it boring?

    by ricarleite2

    Should I take my Nintendo DS?

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10:49 a.m. CST

    No I'm serious about inspired?

    by Series7

    It just sounds like such a fucking cliche thing to say. I want to see this movie. But I mean sounds like Capone was copying some lame tag line for some Oscar bait film.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 11:24 a.m. CST

    It' wasnt boring to me..

    by KubrickFan69

    I was entranced from the opening shot. Boring? I feel sorry for anyone who walks out of the theatre thinking the movie was boring.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Let us all pray that Charyoutree is sterile

    by liesandpicturesofalsolies

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Make the Calvin and Hobbes movie Spike!

    by iamnicksaicnsn

    Please?

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Usure how i feel about it.

    by Novaman5000

    I liked it, certainly, but did I love it? I think a 2nd, maybe 3rd viewing is in order.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Don't waste your $10.

    by cinemixtape.com

    Wait for DVD. Trust me.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 12:39 p.m. CST

    liesandpicturesofalsolies

    by CharyouTree

    haha, I may have kids, and they get a smack when they climb on furniture, shout obnoxiously, demand attention are rude, and basically behaving like little shits.<p> MonkeyManReturns looks like he said it best and all's them kids he described needed was a fuckin smack.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 12:51 p.m. CST

    I won't say it sucked, but I will say it's pigshit

    by BoRock_A_Boomer

    Spent my money and found out for myself. Not just pigshit, hipster pigshit.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 1:27 p.m. CST

    Of course idiots won't like it..

    by KubrickFan69

    Let the retarded hate train commence.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 2:26 p.m. CST

    I was a normal kid

    by KevinMuller

    I had a normal child hood full of friends, adventure, sports, and love from my parents. That argument is false, this is just a picture with thought and heart.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 3:20 p.m. CST

    "children's minds work in an awesomely different way than the mi

    by Glory_Fades_ImMaxFischer

    Gee thanks for that genius.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 4:02 p.m. CST

    Spoilers?

    by the_box_drone

    Don't you think one of those little red spoiler boxes might be in order for this one? you know... since it's full of spoilers and all.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 5:27 p.m. CST

    "Yes but do kids like it?"

    by midgarddragon

    Why the **** should that matter one damn bit? It's a movie, not a babysitter.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Maybe I'm not a human being

    by CherryValance

    I didn't like it.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 9:02 p.m. CST

    This is a shame...

    by Squilookle

    I'm actually quite interested in Where the Wild Things Are, so I'd love to read this, but it's by Capone, who writes spoilers without any warnings, so I won't.

  • Oct. 16, 2009, 10:01 p.m. CST

    A Wild Boar? Get it?

    by whoofman

    I liked the kid, good actor and the movie looks cool, but it didn't grab me. I'm a sucker for a sappy movie, but I wasn't feeling any of it. It's not horrible, it's just ok...definately wait for DVD.

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 6:52 a.m. CST

    Funny enough, Massa's negative review made me

    by AsimovLives

    want to see the movie more then Capone's positive review. Even though technically Capone's review is far superior.

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 6:55 a.m. CST

    God's Brother

    by AsimovLives

    Some movies grow on you. Some movies we start hating then, and later loving it. Some movies we dismiss at first and the love. Like how it happened to me with 2001, the first itme i saw it i dismissed as merely a collection of well executed special effects. Today i love it like i love my own blood. Who know if your reaction to WTWTA will not be the same? At least it did caused you a strong emotional impact (hate), didn't it?

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 7 a.m. CST

    SolomonBundy

    by AsimovLives

    Condescension is the people who make those obvious CGI filled kiddies movies with fart jokes and products of cultural-reference, because they assume the public, even kids, are a bunch of idiots which for them any lazy shit will do.<br><br>The truth is that filmmakers like Spike Jonze and movies like WTWTA treat their audiences right and with respect. And those are very few. There's no condescension on filmamkers and movies like WTWTA, nor are there in the people who love and support it, while denouncing the movies who go for the easy way aout and make movies that insults the audience's inteligence. People who praise this movie and dismiss the other flullfy easy commercialist products of cultural-reference, fart joke CGI movies, they are not condescending, quite the contrary.

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 7:04 a.m. CST

    KubrickFan69

    by AsimovLives

    I fear the same as well. Notice that every year, 100 dumb movies are made. but one smarter, more off-beat mvoie that tries fro something original is made, and all it needs is just ONE, and the geeks here will go on arms against it. Why is this so? It's just ONE movie, ONE SINGLE DIFFERENT MOVIE! They have all the other 100 dumber mvoies to safisfy with, why should they care about the single exception? Adn want that signle exception to match up and became another one of the other 100 dumb milquetoasts? Why is this so?<br><br>Every year, we are lucky if ONE off-beat movie gets made. adn yet, one is made and gets a royal shallacking from the geeks! Who can understand this?

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 7:27 a.m. CST

    SpawnofAchilles

    by AsimovLives

    "It's a movie about a kid, that doesn't make it a kid's movie"<br><br>Correct.

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 9:15 a.m. CST

    I guess men in giant furry costumes are too intellectual for me

    by FeralAngel

    Wow, some guys here are really getting wet for this. And slamming anyone who DARES!!!! say a bad word about it. Because we're attacking their CHILDHOODS!!!!! and nerds HATE THAT!!!!! Jeezus, get the FUCK real. My sister took her kid last night and she was bored and he was more bored. She had to bribe the little monkey with Twizzlers and coke to get him to stay in his seat, and I bet he - and she - are paying for it this morning. Heh hehe, better her than me. I'll take the little scamp to see Astro Boy; hopefully that'll serve as an antidote to what sounds like a giant plush-filled pretentious load of nerd therapy. Eccchhkkk.

  • Oct. 17, 2009, 8:31 p.m. CST

    Loved it

    by the_box_drone

    I loved it, My 7 year old kid loved it, and I don't know if it's a difference between American kids and Canadian kids or what, but I've never heard more reverential silence in a matinee PACKED full of kids before in my life. Too boring for kids my ass!

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 7:27 a.m. CST

    American kids wont like it

    by axemurder

    because their parents cant even watch a subtitled movie and feel the need to get them remade... You americans are dumbing down the world.

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 10:57 a.m. CST

    Axemurder

    by TheBlackKnight

    AMEN!

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Ahhh, go watch a Jerry Lewis film, you frickin foreigners

    by FeralAngel

    And WTWTA was made in AMERICA, thank you very much. And do I hear a thank you in turn for kicking Hitler off your shores? Hmmm? Waiting! *crickets*

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 6:50 p.m. CST

    PUFFIN STUFF

    by blkfuturistic

    I WAS GONNA PUFF SOME STUFF AND DRINK ABSINTHE HAPSBURG 89% DURING THE SHOW. I AM GLAD I DIDNT WTWA WOULD F@#k YOUR HIGH UP IF U WENT TO GET A HIPPY EXPERENCIE. I LOVE MAX'S POV IT WAS GREAT BUT THE WILD THINGS ARE SUCH DOWNERS THAT WHEN THEY TRY TO DO FUN STUFF IT IS F@#KING BORING. I LOVE ART HOUSE FANTASY FILMS THERE HAVE BEEN MANY GOOD ONES BUT THIS ONE BLOWS. NOW BRING ON THAT H.R PUFFIN STUFF MOVIE THAT IS IN THE WORKS. YES I WANT TO GET HIGH ON A FUN ISLAND WITH A FLYING WITCH AND SOME GOOFY MOFO'S.

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 9:54 p.m. CST

    I hate to say it, but I was disappointed.

    by kevred

    The trailer absolutely knocked me out and moved me. My partner and I were excited to see it, she was almost giddy for it. Even so, I think we still had realistic expectations for it.<p>Which is why we were sad to be so disappointed by it.<p>They got so much right. The creatures were brilliant. The look of the film was perfect. The tone was great, and there were many moving and sincere moments throughout the film.<p>So what was there not to like?<p>We, the people we went with, and seemingly most everyone else in the theater with us left with a "that's it?" feeling, because after the brilliant setup, the film didn't go anywhere. It created such a true, spot-on emotional context for a confused young boy, and then stopped. There was no journey, no progress, no movement. Just--here's this fantastic world, and everyone's sad, the end. We weren't looking for an insincere, everything's-fine ending. But the movie simply stalled once it established things on the island. There was no development for anyone past that point. What the creatures represented was muddled and unresolved. Max's struggles were muddled and unresolved. He left the island spontaneously without anything having really been learned or any of the emotional investment we'd made in the creatures being rewarded at all. Suddenly it's just time to go home, mom's kooky and imperfect, the end. <p>Huh? That's fine for a picture book, but not for a feature film. And I guess that's what I didn't like about this. They took the innocent setup of the book and made it deeper and more troubled, fleshed out the island and creatures as something deeper and more emotionally complex, but then all we get is a quick cop-out of a third act.<p>If leaving the fantasy world behind as an incomplete solution to life's realities is the point of this thing, I think it's a pretty weak point, and one that shortchanges the imaginative energy that gives the movie all of its life.<p>This film got so much right, yet in the end didn't really have much at all to say.<p>On the way out of the theater, my partner lamented that the Arcade Fire song from the trailer wasn't in the film. That for me, was meaningful: what that song, wedded to the trailer, hinted at is exactly what was missing from the film itself: the joy, the exultation. The result just kind of left us all a bit sad.

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 10:47 p.m. CST

    Def in my top three best of the year.

    by knowthyself

    The other two being District 9 and Watchmen.

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 10:49 p.m. CST

    Max left with nothing learned?

    by knowthyself

    Did you miss the moment he finally realized that Carol was acting the way HE was acting toward his mom? Then he realized that he maybe should take it easier on her. Carol's behavior is the key to the whole thing. Not to mention K.W. being his "mother" figure and he literally returns to her womb and is reborn. Jonze didn't cram it down our throats and for this I thank him.

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 10:52 p.m. CST

    The "real-life" was more captivating than the fantasy

    by REVENGE_of_FETT

    <p>I had a reaction to this film I was not expecting, and it's the same one I had to Batman Begins. The real-life story that anchors it is stronger than the fantasy elements that follow.</p><p>It seems bizarre to say I enjoyed Bruce Wayne's story more before he becomes Batman or Max's story more before he sails of to Where the Wild Things Are, but I guess that just speaks to how strongly anchored these two films are.</p><p>I LOVE the fact that I have no idea what's going to happen next in this film. I find it strange that it is almost always the worst case scenerio. This movie reminded me of what it's like to be a kid perhaps more than any other film, and it reminded me that it isn't the rosy picture we probably prefer to recall.</p><p>The worst of being a kid is that we don't have control over anything and this film recreates that beautifully. It also illustrates why that's very fortunate.</p><p>I also find it interesting that we aren't sure how much Max has really taken away from this experience. As kids we have to learn the same lessons over and over before we are able to socially train ourselves. I get the sense that Max isn't done playing aggressive games at the end of this film because he likes them, even though the frequently prove the old saying "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye".</p><p>I really like this movie, but it's not exactly "fun". It is often chaotic and usually tense and stressful. I can't believe this is a major release because it's more like a little art film. A LOT of parents are going to be ticked off for taking their kid to this because there are several sequences that border on horror and I really did not expect that. The marketing certainly doesn't hint at that aspect.</p><p>The wild things themselves work perfectly. The CGI blends in with the suits and you just believe they exist. They don't even seem that out of the ordinary for that world. The blend in with their environment and interract realistically with each other.</p><p>The acting is universally superb. There is not one dishonest moment in the film. Katherine Keener and Max Records knock it out of the park. In fact I would not be surprised if Keener got an Oscar nomination for her 10 minutes of screen time.</p><p>The score is just bizarre. More odd sounds than music, it heightens tension while infusing whimsey. It brings a schitsophrenic feeling to the surface that feels appropriate to the story.</p><p>I think that's the real heart of the story, children are fricken NUTS! They don't do things that make sense, but rather react to their inner feelings. They are wild things before they develop a social conscience. The adult in me really wanted him to apologize to his mother at the end, but this movie isn't so much about reconciliation as it is about forging a path to self-actualization. This is something only vaguely hinted at in the book, but probably what has made it so successful for so long.</p><p>Truthfully I'm sure I would have enjoyed a lighter, more adventure-oriented version too, but this is something special. I can't remember the last time a major studio put out such a risky piece of art. My one complaint might be that the wild things mimic Max's home life a little too much, but that's nitpicking to the extreme. This is an instant classic, a film kids will watch over and over throughout their lives, picking up a little more each time.</p>

  • Oct. 18, 2009, 11:44 p.m. CST

    knowthyself, you make a good point, but...

    by kevred

    ...that's where my "that's it?" feeling comes in. They make a feature film and the only outcome is Max decides he should take it easier on his mom? I thought the setup was deep but the payoff rushed and shallow.<p>And it's debatable whether Max really learned anything, or if he just ran from himself and back to the broken safety of mom.<p>Personally, I'd have preferred Max going to and from this fantasy well a few times over the course of the film, and in the process really building some understanding of what was going on and coming to peace with those monsters in himself. Not to the extent that he's completely "cured" by the end, but the ambiguous and detached departure from the island made the whole thing seem like an overlong vignette rather than a journey that merited a feature-length presentation.<p>To me, the ending felt hasty, tacked-on, and lacking an emotional payoff that did justice to what came before it.

  • Oct. 19, 2009, 12:25 a.m. CST

    kevred, I know exactly what you are saying...

    by REVENGE_of_FETT

    That's why I really wanted him to apologize to his mom at the end. That would have gone against his character though. I think the only time we see Max apologize is to goatboy, and that's more just to address an uncomfortable moment.</p><p>As I stated in my reviewm, it is unclear whether or not Max has learned anything from this experience. I'm not sure, from a storytelling perspective, if that is a good thing or not. It's probably the most realistic approach however. How many times have you told a kid not to do something and you can tell that they understand and that they are earnest when they say they won't do it again, then they do it again? Children lack morals, they just do. Morality is something they grow into over time. Arguably these morals are not arrived at via lesson-learning, but rather a chemical change in their brain. Only AFTERWARDS can they derive life lessons from their past experiences.</p><p>I think this film is actively trying to avoid the pitfall of depicting children as little adults with all the moral capacity we have. So while we're looking for a traditional moral story, the Max character isn't capable of providing that. it would be disingenuous to have him suddenly devlop a moral conscience through thi8s one experience despite our traditional storytelling training saying he should. My two cents anyway.</p>

  • Oct. 19, 2009, 8:53 a.m. CST

    Fett, you're right about that.

    by kevred

    I agree that the traditional moral arc wouldn't have worked and would have betrayed the honesty of how they set up the turmoil of a young boy. As satisfying as that would have been in one way, it would have cheapened things.<p>But I was still left wanting something more--something besides just going there, having a little freakout, then running home. I think the film built a rich and complex enough world to say more, then didn't. Even if Max never really figured himself out, I think they could have given us a few different there-and-back-again episodes, letting the audience see and understand more about Max and his dual lives, and in the process making the journey more satisfying for us, the outside observers.<p>That, to me, would have been a good way way to remain honest to Max's own confusion--which he couldn't fully come to terms with at his age--while giving the viewers more than just a snapshot of one brief moment in a child's mind. Even if Max couldn't have tied things up neatly with a bow, he could have progressed in his relationship with all of his 'monsters' in some way that worked better for the viewer.

  • Oct. 19, 2009, 10:42 a.m. CST

    I'm not sure going back and forth would have worked...

    by REVENGE_of_FETT

    <p>It's an interesting idea but I think it would have overcomplicated things. For one, you would have to develop transitions between each episode. I suppose you could just "cut to" him being back at the island, but that might have felt jarring and could produce the effect of feeling ripped out of whatever drama was currently going on. It would also solidify the idea that the island was not real. I think they were actively trying to avoid that notion which is probably why they didn't have Max's bedroom transform.</p><p>I suppose the proper way to tell both stories would be to have the monsters in his real world, but only him being able to see them. That would have betrayed the book though. It would be a cool idea for a sequel if they ever did one though.</p>

  • Oct. 19, 2009, 11:36 a.m. CST

    FeralAngel, "bribing the little monkey" might just...

    by NaryChode

    ...be the new name for monkey-loving monday's pre-game activities. That said, "bribing the little monkey" with Twizzlers and Coke in order to get him to sit still in a theatre is like fucking for chastity. Sounds like WTWA was ABOUT kids like your nephew, if not for him. A movie about adults in giant furry costumes may, or may not be too intellectual for you, I don't know. But WTWA was in fact the opposite of intellectual, the emotions and behaviors it explored are not just (appropriately) juvenile, they are downright primitive. So primitive that the only way to discuss them is with polysyllabic phsycobabble. Which is why it was impressive that WTWA managed to dodge all of the aweful pretension that could be generated from diving into a child's psyche.

  • Oct. 19, 2009, 11:37 a.m. CST

    ...and cut straight to the heart.

    by NaryChode

  • Oct. 19, 2009, 6:34 p.m. CST

    Fett, you may be right about that too.

    by kevred

    It would have been more challenging to pull off. When I suggested that idea, I was thinking of the Neverending Story film. A different beast, but I thought that worked very well and had a nice, satisfying journey and mystery and buildup that developed over the course of it.<p>Really, I can't fault the WTWTA film as objectively flawed. As a single snapshot of the psyche of a boy, it was pretty much dead-on and the monster world was fantastically realized. I just wasn't personally expecting the absence of plot, and in my subjective view it was less satisfying--even a great missed opportunity--as a result.<p>But my thoughts are just idle speculation--no point in telling an artist what they should have expressed--and consumer feedback. I'm glad this film was made and, if this is the exact vision Jonze wanted, then I'm glad for that too.

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