We saw Where the Wild Things Are over the weekend. I've been anxiously awaiting this movie ever since I saw its first preview months ago. I have memories of reading the book as a kid, and the images that splashed across the screen during the previews - and the music! - looked so magical.
As the release date approached, I had some worries. Was I expecting too much? Would I be disappointed? How could Spike Jonze turn a 300-word story into a 90-minute movie? But in the end, I wasn't disappointed. I really, really enjoyed the movie. I won't say I loved it, but I did love parts of it.
I thought the actor who plays Max (Max Records) was well cast. He was a sweet, lonely boy aching for attention. And as any 9-year-old would behave, he didn't always know the best way to get that attention. But the kid had quite the imagination, and that's something I appreciate. (My imagination ran wild, no pun intended, when I was a kid.)
When he arrived on the island where the wild things are, it was pretty magical. I loved the monsters. I loved how you could see the personalities of the actors shine through the big, furry costumes. (Seriously, KW actually looked like and had the mannerisms of Lauren Ambrose.) Some critics thought the CGI facial expressions and mouth movements didn't come through that well, but I disagree. I didn't think anything about the monsters was distracting from the story.
I also loved how the monsters represented parts of Max's real life. Carol didn't want things to change, and when they did, he destroyed things and threw tantrums (see Max in the first 15 minutes of the film). KW wanted to love Carol, but found it very difficult when he acted that way (ah, see moms everywhere). I loved how Max learned from this. I loved the Rumpus, I loved the sleep pile, I loved the scenery.
I do disagree with some who say it's not a kids movie, though. I definitely think you could take an 8 year old to see this movie and he/she would be fine. There's maybe one or two frightening parts, but they're no more frightening then some parts in the Pixar movies. And because I disagree, this means that some parts of the movie were just a little childish for my taste. Just a few parts dragged - only a few. But in the end I cried because I was attached to the characters and I was quite pleased with the movie as a whole.