Daniel's Critical Corner

October 20, 2009

Daniel’s Critical Corner: “Where the Wild Things Are”

Filed under: Film,Reviews,Spike Jonze — Daniel @ 10:00 pm
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where_the_wild_things1[1] by you.
Sarah McLachlan (Right) Getting A Hug At “Lilith Fair”

~ Hello Everyone ~
Welcome To Daniel’s Critical Corner !
Today’s Shaggy Schlock:  Where the Wild Things Are

This Halloween season, I’m sure many fine people are going to be wondering
exactly “Where the Wild Things Are”.  Some will take solace in the fact that
they are not all in David Letterman’s dressing room…  Folks can actually find
beasties galore lurking throughout Spike Jonze’s new adaption of the classic
children’s book penned by Maurice Sendak !

At times, this dark flick feels like it was really penned by Jacqueline Susann
(Valley of the Dolls) or Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar).  This “kid’s” story sure as
bloody HELL did not translate into a kid’s movie…  It’s a PG version of “The
Omen” laced with moments reflecting “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. I
couldn’t tell if I was watching “The Bad Seed” or “Born Free” !

Our “hero” is some brat named Max.  I disliked this young man about three
minutes or so into the film… For starters, he has some strong anger issues
and his mother dresses him funny.  Little Mad Max is the kind of character
you really want to see get beat up on the playground !  He is not wearing
any jet-black eyeliner yet, but he’s one “Hot Topic” shopping spree away
from becoming EMO !!!

Granted, Max does have a hard life for a child…  We never see him playing
 video games (abnormal) and he doesn’t even seem to own an iPod !!!  This
forces him to build snow forts, play with sticks and use his imagination.  If
I saw my son out in the street playing with a stick, I would just hand his
lunch money to bullies myself.  Sticks are soooo 1952.

Part of the problem stems from his parents being divorced.  Or maybe they
are separated…  I’m not sure.  Whatever the circumstance, Max has ended
 up living with his mom and sister.  One fateful night, this kid sees his mama 
getting groped by some dorky dude on the sofa…

Max freaks out…  But that’s what happens when bodies start slappin’ (from
doin’ the Wild Thing).  She wanna do the Wild Thing !!!  Please, baby baby
please !

 

Tone+Loc[1] by you.
Hangin’ Out Is Always
Hype !

 

Max’s mom and “date” are angry that the boy has ruined their good time…
The traumatized tot tears up the house while his mother attempts to find
  some Prozac (to no avail) !  He proceeds to bite his mommy and then runs 
out into the street, dressed as a squirrel and howling like a banshee.

What happens next is magical…  Sort of.  Cujo Max runs to a waterfront
area where he gets into a boat and sales off to an enchanted world !  In
tragic reality, this twit is having a big medication withdrawal and foaming
at the mouth while laying semi-conscious on a dirty beach.

  His dark, inner demons spring to life in a fantastical fashion !!!  We meet  
odd creatures resembling the “Sid and Marty Krofft” puppets (after being
coated with glue and tossed in a giant pile of Natalie Merchant’s leg-hair
shavings).  This is of course, assuming that Merchant indeed shaves her
legs.

 

504x_wherewildthings[1] by you.
^ Another Avant-Garde “Burger King” Commercial

 

 I mention Natalie Merchant only because of the style of this film’s soundtrack.
It’s kind of folky, but not good old-fashioned granola folky.  It’s like screaming
angry-hippie bongo animal folk !  Folking ridiculous if you ask me…  If I wanted
to be entertained by slightly miffed bohemians, I would watch “Rent”.

Anyway, Max starts to hang out with these large, wild monsters.  All of them
have major problems (but cute names) !!!  Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini)
is the leader of the pack, and he likes to break things…  His girlfriend has left
him (KW, voiced by Lauren Ambrose) so he’s totally bummed out.

Assorted fuzzy (and feathered) friends help Max become king, and Max uses
everything in his power to cheer Carol up !!!  Carol eventually comes around,
but not before ripping someone’s arm off.

At times, “Where the Wild Things Are” reminded me of “Jon & Kate Plus 8”.
Horrible hair, depressing adult situations, assorted goblins running around
and loads of shrieking.  Sad in a way…  Yet not a total loss.  Despite being
far removed from the vibe the book put out, this flick is artfully done.

 

wildthings27crop[1] by you.
How Do You Work This Confounded Camera ?

 

 Beautiful imagery and nice special effects abound.  But the plot’s much too
heavy-handed, and the resolution of everyone’s issues is muddled.  OK, so
the director did something bold and daring.  Kudos to him !  He embellished
on a story we all know and love… (I’m glad he avoided doing Dr. Seuss and
others).

Can you imagine ?  “Horton Hears a Who!” (because of the hallucinogens).
Or, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” (gets taken behind the shed) !!!  How about
 adorable “Curious George” (and the intriguing electrical outlet) ?!!  Perhaps 
the already morose “Velveteen Rabbit” (in a “Fatal Attraction” remake).

Fact is, it’s pretty easy (and in vogue these days) to turn something fun
and lighthearted into a tragedy.  I’d give a cookie to someone who could
do the opposite !  Maybe transform Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” into a
sweet, heartwarming tale of happiness and hope…

 Ha !!!  When I first heard about this project, for some reason I thought 
it was being directed by “Spike Lee” !  Now there’s a movie worth seeing
at any cost.  “Do the Right Wild Thing” ! 

 I’m sure it would have been more entertaining than this incarnation…  Not
 a good film,  not a bad film.  Just an adequate study regarding the effects
of steroids on Teletubbies.

  “Where the Wild Things Are” is full of sound and furry, signifying nothing.

~

Would I Recommend This ?  No

Daniel’s Critical Rating:  “6” out of “10”

 

 

14 Comments »

  1. Geez! You disappear for months (hope you had a good summer) and then come up with a ‘NO” movie?!! Daniel, Daniel, Daniel at least there is good news coming soon when Star Trek gets released on dvd next month!

    Comment by deslily — October 21, 2009 @ 3:38 am | Reply

  2. Please, don’t kill the messenger ! LOL !!! “Star Trek” gets a big fat YES !

    Comment by Daniel — October 21, 2009 @ 7:01 am | Reply

  3. You’re not the only critic I’ve read who has compared the Wild Things to Sid & Marty Kroft creatures! HA! Now I gotta go download the “HR Pufinstuf” theme song. Oh…and some of the music from the film by Wendy O of the “Yeah Yeah Yeah’s”. Anyway…my son didn’t really care much for this film and I’m gonna go with what he said to sum it up. It’s sad. But your review is not! Nicely done Daniel! And welcome back! Where ya been?

    Comment by Alan — October 21, 2009 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  4. Well, the similarities to Sid and Marty are SO blatant that having multiple comparisons by critics
    was inevitable I suppose. Karen O is (usually) pretty darn cool. Check out an awesome seasonal
    tune called “Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?” featuring Karen, Beck, Elvira, Buck 65 and Thurston
    Moore of “Sonic Youth” to name just a few !!! I’ve always liked “Yeah Yeah Yeahs”, but hearing
    Karen O do “angry-hippie bongo animal folk” had me shouting out “No No No!” LOL ! 🙂

    Comment by Daniel — October 21, 2009 @ 8:25 am | Reply

  5. Good to have you back! 🙂 I think this is the type of deeply personal film that either resonates with people or it just falls flat. For me I really “got” where Max was coming from, the anger, the loneliness, the joy in finding refuge in one’s imagination. Like “The Wizard of Oz”, each character in Max’s imaginary world corresponded either with someone in his real world or to some part of his personality. It was nice to see a movie that allowed me to figure out the nuances for myself instead of it all being spoon-fed. His realization at the end that it was time to leave the wild things behind and grow up a bit to be a better kid (especially for his Mom’s sake), was really moving for me. Anyhoo, just my 2¢…

    Comment by RuSs — October 21, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  6. Blah… I just threw up on my new keyboard. You owe me !!!

    Comment by Daniel — October 21, 2009 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  7. Ha – true! What the hell is Max doing playing outside? Why was he not throwing a tantrum because he couldn’t get in the living room to play on his XBox!

    Comment by Melanie Addington — October 21, 2009 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  8. 🙂 LOL ! At least THAT tantrum would be justified !

    Comment by Daniel — October 21, 2009 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  9. Daniel, this is one of your best reviews, yet! I don’t know how you come up with this stuff, but it’s amazing! So many things made me laugh out loud. “Velveteen Rabbit in a Fatal Attraction remake”! Love it!!!

    As for the movie, I agree with you. It was too boring for my tastes. I didn’t like the angry brat very much myself. Plus, the monsters where really depressing. I never read the book, but, based on what you said, it sounds like it was nothing like this. You make an excellent point about it being in vogue turning something fun and lighthearted into a tragedy. I think Hollywood needs to lighten up!

    -Chayne

    Comment by Chayne — October 21, 2009 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  10. Thanks Chayne ! “Where the Wild Things Are” = Children’s movie FAIL !

    This movie takes a look at childhood dreams through the jaded eyes of
    adults…

    Max is a turd. You know that screaming kid at the grocery store… The
    one that’s out of control and no one can stand. But you just smile and
    pretend it doesn’t bother you. Max is that kid and who wants to watch
    a flick about HIM ? LOL !!!

    Comment by Daniel — October 21, 2009 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

  11. i have to say i was pretty upset that it was so bad. is there no child’s movie that is worthwhile anymore? at least the berenstain bears were never tampered with. loved the review. about time too!

    Comment by vanessa — October 23, 2009 @ 1:03 pm | Reply

  12. Don’t give Spike Jonze any ideas about the “Berenstain Bears”…
    Next thing you know, they will be rugs in front of the fireplace !

    Comment by Daniel — October 23, 2009 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  13. The book scared the hell out of me when I was little, looks like the film is gonna do the same. I think this making kids films for adults is starting to go a bit off the road…

    Comment by Katie — October 31, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  14. This movie is much scarier than the book, so BEWARE. LOL ! Flicks
    such as “Finding Nemo” cater to adults and children alike, without
    an intense fear factor… I hope we see more offerings in that vein
    soon !!!

    Comment by Daniel — November 1, 2009 @ 8:23 am | Reply


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