Wild Things

Done today: Still on first five chapters

Revision remaining: 149 pages

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about the new Where the Wild Things Are movie, which my husband and I saw last weekend, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. Mostly, my feelings of the film go against all the critics who have praised it.

Maybe that’s because I went in looking for Where the Wild Things Are book, a delightful romp into a kid’s imagination when he’s sent to his room by himself. As an only child, I lived in my imagination for much of my childhood, creating new worlds, stories that I played a part in, and friends. I devoured books and imagined myself in those stories. And when I played with little action figures in our flower beds, I imagined myself that small looking up at the underside of the flowers.

That’s why I love Maurice Sendak‘s original Where the Wild Things Are picture book — a look at a fun adventure in a kid’s imagination.

In the movie, I felt that was lost. Instead, it’s an examination of a kid who’s feeling angry because his sister didn’t stand up for him — after he picked a snowball fight, I might add — and his mother, who’s shown in a very sympathetic way and as attentive if busy, told him she was too busy to play with him at that moment. In my mind, the kid isn’t painted in a very good light, and when he goes on the Wild Things adventure, it’s after he runs away, not an innocent romp while he’s having a time out.

The best review of the movie I’ve seen is The Horn Book‘s. Claire Gross says the best way to enjoy this movie is to view it as totally separate from the book, and I agree.

My wish, however, is that director Spike Jonze had come up with his own wild things and left Where the Wild Things Are for an adaptation that would more closely reflect the fun of the original book.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Write On!

2 Responses

  1. Jill McLaughlin says:

    I took 24 children age 7 to see this movie for my twins birthday party. The kids were pretty good and sat through it but I kept thinking, “who did they make this movie for?” It was very arty and visually beautiful. But the wild things were not sympathetic with all of their bickering and snarkiness. It wasn’t just that they were scary it was that they were unlikeable. If the movie wasn’t made for children, who was the intended audience?

  2. I know what you mean, Jill. And I think that’s what bothered me most about the film. Sure it’s visually attractive, and it explores the childhood issues Spike Jones wanted to explore. But that’s all about what the filmmaker wants. Where the Wild Things Are is for kids, but this movie isn’t really for kids, not in the fun, entertaining way the book is. I think that’s a shame.

What do you think?