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Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Where the Wild Things Are"

In "Where the Wild Things Are" Spike Jonze has created a dreamscape so vivid and expansive that you wish you could visit. That's not to say that everything is peaceful in this land. There are some scenes that mildly frightened me, so I would advise caution when bringing little ones. (It seems that if a ruler of the Wild Things displeases his subjects, their next meal is served -ahem- ala King.)

Other critics have referenced recent live-action Seuss adaptations, "The Grinch" and "Cat in the Hat," usually with the prefix, "much better than", but then they proceed to say that the expansion to feature-length has still served to undercut the power of the source material. It is true that "Cat in the Hat" was nothing short of a desecration, and "Grinch" was mediocre and what's worse, completely unnecessary given the enormous shadow of Chuck Jones' animated classic. Still, to mention "Wild Things" in the company of those films seems a bit like comparing "Citizen Kane" to "Harold & Kumar go to White Castle." I believe that "Wild Things" is not only the antithesis of the Seuss films, it may well be the antidote. If an adaptation can not match the imagination and reverent care of this film, then the project should be scrapped.

The casting is ingenious, it is wonderfully disconcerting to hear the voice of Tony Soprano emanating from something that is almost cuddly despite his destructive rage. Max is played by Portlander Max Records, who imbues his character with surprisingly deep anger. The Wild Things themselves are brought to life by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and I predict an Oscar win.

"Where the Wild Things Are" is beautifully photographed. Honestly, if the characters had done nothing but continue their Wild Rumpus throughout the length of the film I would have been satisfied, but they do much more. It is a film that encourages introspection, and one of the few that gives younger audiences the credit they deserve.

Note: I saw this film in the IMAX at Bridgeport and that it is the way it should be seen. Make the trip from wherever you are, you will not be disappointed.

You May Also Like:

"Adaptation" (Also directed by Jonze)

"Animal Farm" (1999 version also featuring the work of Jim Henson's Creature Shop)

"Being John Malkovich" (Also directed by Jonze)

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