Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are (2009) — Loved it.  Maybe it’s just me (though from other reviews it seems not) but this movie seems to be one of the rare movies that really gets it.  The “it” being childhood.  I mean this movie understands it all: the wild mood swings, the fantasy world, the self-absorption (actually that sounds an awful lot like me now…)  That spirit of playing in your own imaginary universe, not understanding why everyone else can’t cater to your whims, and having your mood turn on a dime if things don’t go your way: that’s all embodies in the main character of Max (played by Max Records).  The film is about growing up.  The Wild Things (voiced by James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Catharine O’Hara, Forrest Whitaker, and Paul Dano) all reflect different aspects of Max and seeing a kid basically interacting with facets of his own personality really makes the movie work on a deeper level.  Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers (along with Away We Go, Eggers [a favorite author of mine] is batting 2 for 2 on his screenwriting career) managed to turn ten sentences into a fully-realized movie without compromise.  So many kids’ movies are brightly-colored shallow entertainment with crude humor (and a few smart-ass asides for older viewers) and pop soundtracks.  It’s great to have a movie go deeper.  The question I suppose is will kids like it?  I’m not a 21st century kid so I don’t know.  I don’t have or regularly associate with any kids so I don’t really care.  There’s a brilliant movie here.  The set design is striking.  I dug Carter Burwell & Karen O’s music (though I get the feeling people who don’t care for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs won’t).  The creature effects (real people in creature costumes with CGI faces) were fantastic.  A lesser movie would have gone for totally CGI creatures.  This movie gets it right using CGI to enhance practical effects rather than treating it like the only tool in the toolbox the way most movies are nowadays.  I will see this movie again (hopefully on IMAX) and will buy it when it comes out on Blu-ray. Sidenote: I would have killed to see this movie in IMAX but Sacramento’s Esquire IMAX theater continues its moronic practice of getting their IMAX movies a month late.  That’s going to really bite them on the ass when they open A Christmas Carol in January…

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