April 5, 2010
This kid's id transforms his dormer into a forest full of grumpy frumpy monsters.
The story sprang from the 20 pages of controversial Maurice Sendak's ever popular children's book of the same name, Where The Wild Things Are. Nine sentences on paper were elongated into 101 minutes of celluloid (costing about eleven million dollars per sentence).
For the audience, Director Spike Jonze either created a lengthy plotless movie about a boy's dreadful temper... or a wonderful wishful whimsical yarn of where wild things romp and a young king reigns rulelessly.
Rare is the lad that does not kick a shin, box a chin, or trip a mate. But Max bit his mom. He's an out-of-control child with an out-of-this-world imagination. He is every brat's dream and every parent's nightmare.
Truthfully, the wild ones and their wilderness are kinda scary. Adult level scariness. And for any parent hoping to foster good behavior with moral movies, forget this flic. The tot gets away with tantrums and mayhem - hence the enduring popularity of the tome. And the appeal of the film.
Max Records plays rebellious mad Max (the movie character, who is nameless in the book). Winning the role after a worldwide search, Max (the actor) exudes the excitement of a boy plucked out of real life and thrust into the centrifugal focus of a make-believe world where costumed creatures cavort to his whim.
The eclectic casting coup includes Mom and Mom's beau, perfectly performed by Catherine Keener and Mark Ruffalo. Catherine O'Hara, James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker and Paul Dano voice and model the quirky menacing monsters.
As for the quandary: Is the picture for preteens or geezers? The finding: Where The Wild Things Are is for a very hardy young'un and the very young-at-heart.
If you've ever seen the 83 year old Sendak (and you can on the DVD Extras), he personifies a veritable wild thing. Sharpen his teeth, sprout a horn, affix some claws or attach a tail and he'd be ready for the rumpus. He is the original wild one.
Soul mates Sendak and Jonze truly remember the wacky inhibitions of growing up. For the film, the creative creators recapture childhood surrounded, stimulated and inspired by swarms of their own offspring who accompanied them on location to Australia.
You can view their recorded good times. What memories those lucky kids will cherish.
Snooping behind the shooting is worth the price of the Blu-ray. Jonze (who made Being John Malkovich and Adaptation) is renown for his otherworldly combo of live-action, special effects, animation and puppetry.
To bring the storybook to life, he hired the Jim Henson Company (of Muppet fame) to conceive and craft the monsters.
And he channeled British artist Andy Goldsworwthy's ephemeral natural sculptures. (Sadly, Goldsworwthy gets no credit for seminating the sets of this lavishly lyrical habitat.)
Once again, good extras enchant, enhance and enrich.
Studio: Warner Home Video
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Max Records, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Steve Mouzakis, Mark Ruffalo, Pepita Emmerichs, Max Pfeifer, Madeleine Greaves, Joshua Jay, Ryan Corr, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O'Hara, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Paul Dano, Michael Berry Jr.
Length: 101 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.4:1
DTS-HD Master Audio
Dolby Digital 5,1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish