Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

We had some free movie tickets to use by Christmas Eve, so Where the Wild Things Are seemed like the best of the available options. I have read the book (a long time ago) and the pictures have stuck with me much more than the plot - perhaps because the soft toys and children's wall frescoes are ubiquitous. I don't have any qualms about going to a movie for children but I had read that it isn't a child's movie but a movie for adults who want to remember what it's like to be a child, which seemed an appealing concept.

The story is about Max who is a 6 or 7 year old who lives with his mother and older sister. Like most 6 or 7 year old boys, he's addicted to adrenalin and attention, and like most 6 or 7 year olds that addiction can't always be fed at times convenient to himself. One evening when his mother is attempting to entertain a male friend, he gets a big telling off because his behaviour is embarrassing her,and so he bites her and runs off and ends up sailing a boat to the home of the Wild Things - an amazing somewhat unlikely landscape made up of forest juxtaposed with desert and seaside, populated with large furry creatures with horns.

Max has some adventures with his new furry friends,and gets crowned King of the Wild Things and you don't have to be a psychologist to work out that the Wild Things represent different aspects of his personality. His favourite is Carol, who likes to smash things to cheer himself up and assuage anger. KW is a bit alternative and has friends outside the group, and the Bull is a gloomy Eeyore-like character. After a major dirtball fight where some Wild Things get hurt (Douglas loses an arm which gives rise to one of the best quotes "that arm was one of my favourites") and Max learns that being angry and destructive can hurt people you care about and break possessions you care about. Realising he misses his Mother he sets sail for home and on arrival has supper with his Mother, all safe and sound.

I had a pleasant time watching this film. The psychological stuff isn't laboured too hard and the Wild Things are appealing and charming. Its a bit long for its content (an hour would have done) and there are one or two irritating flaws. The bit that bugged me most was Max running off through the neighbourhood with his Mother pursuing him, and then her giving up without finding him. This would have been believable if he had run up to his bedroom (like in the book) or even into the backyard but losing your child in a suburban street and then going home to wait for him calmly just wasn't credible - I'd be expecting police cars and search dogs.

For adults WTWTA has escapist qualities and a degree of charm; for children its probably too long and a bit obscure - reading them the book would be better.

Anne's rating: 3/5 Ian's rating: 2/5