Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009

Tonight, Lucas and I went to see Where the Wild Things Are. To say we were excited to see it may perhaps be the biggest understatement in the history of this blog. I'm not sure which one of us was more excited, because I can honestly say that I had never been more excited to see a movie. I mean, as a Star Wars fan, I was excited for Revenge of the Sith (and was happy with it); as an Indiana Jones fan, I was thrilled in anticipation for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (biggest letdown ever); and the closest I remember coming to this level of excitement was for Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp (and I loved it!).

On a side note, as a child who read all of Roald Dahl's books numerous times, I got genuine goosebumps watching the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox. Can't wait.

But back to Where the Wild Things Are... I'm not going to post a review like I did for Inglourious Basterds or District 9 (click the links for my reviews), but I would still like to start a discussion in the Comments section for those of you that have seen it. Or even if you haven't, feel free to join in the conversation. It's not like we can spoil the plot for you since almost everyone on the planet has read the book since it is almost 50 years old.

I'll join in the conversation in the Comments section once we get started, but I'll tell you off the top: I loved it. I thought the imagery was amazing, and the story itself was very emotional...it stirred up some old emotions in me, for sure. Lucas loved it as well, telling me that it may be the best movie of all-time. What did you think?


Lee said...

Went to see it with my family on Friday night. To put things into perspective, my daughter is 7 and my son is 5. So, I wasn't really sure what to expect, nor was I sure of how the kids would react.

I really only noticed a couple of scenes that I thought would bother the younger audience. The scene when the 'igloo' fell onto Max bothered me, but I'm not sure how the kids felt about it. The scene when Max was in the boat and they panned out to show him in this HUGE body of water bothered me and also bothered my son. The last scene that I thought would scare the younger audience a little was when (can't believe I forget the characters name already) got really mad and was chasing Max.

It isn't likely to win best screenplay, but all in all, I thought the movie was great.

nicki said...

I went to see it tonight with my mumma..sorry again that i wasn't up to going last night..I have to say..that i was definitely not disappointed in the movie...i have had it so built up in my mind since i saw the trailer for the first time..that i was actually worried for a minute..that it wouldn't live up to everything i thought it might be..my favourite part of the movie was when everyone jumped on each other, and max was underneath all of them, and him and KW were talking and then they all fell asleep in the real pile...imma tell you a little secret..i've NEVER read the book..so for me..it was a bit of a surprise how emotional it was..and i probably cried about 5 different times..*sniff*..now..i dunno what else to say..besides..its definitely a movie that i'm going to buy, and likely watch over and over again...and also..i need to buy the book :)

brytni said...

I want to see it, but i don't want to see it until later on, because i like being almost alone in the theater. lol ill let you know when i see it!

Anonymous said...

I don't want to deliver a metaphorical dick-punching to anyone's childhood here or anything, but I really didn't like Where The Wild Things Are, and except for the rose-tinted monster of nostalgia, I can't think of many reasons why people WOULD like this movie.

First, don't get me wrong. I didn't hate this movie. The story was pretty solid, the monsters were really cool-looking whilst still retaining the same look from the children's book. But I found it somewhat boring and confusing and uncomfortable.

I too, have never read the children's book, have no idea what it's about or what kind of tone it was...I literally have no knowledge of the book whatsoever, except that it's for children, and it's about some wild things and where they might be. As such, my expectations were probably pretty different from most people.

I tell you what I was not expecting; and that was for every single character in the movie (except the mom) to be unlikable and annoying. I guess I expected the monsters to be a little more ideal; like they were Max's fever dream ideas of perfect friends, existing in a friendly world he could escape to because his personal world was so unpleasant for him. Buuuuut, they're none of them like that. They were all weirdly dysfunctional and reminded me of a family of social retards all reunited against their will for Christmas dinner. Some were whiny, some were aggressive, rude, mean, sulky, etc. Very few of them were nice or showed any positive qualities that might make me think they weren't better off as exotic rugs in front of the fireplace.


Especially Carol. What the hell, is he like, the main friend for Max in the book or something? Because he was a scary freak. That dude was like a drunk wife-beating stepdad. That sounds harsh, but think about it. Shit doesn't go his way and he trashes everything, threatens people, and then beats them. He tore off a dude's arm for Christ's sake, then almost killed Max in a rage! I'll say that again: he mutilates his friend and almost murders a little boy. And then I'm supposed to feel sad for him when Max leaves and Carol is left blubbering like an abusive husband who finally beat his wife bad enough that she's left him and is never coming back?? Fuck that guy, man. If he were a human he'd be put in jail, if he were an animal he would have been put down long ago.

Maybe I'm assigning too much gravity to this movie. Maybe I'm oblivious to the light hearted, touchingly emotional tone it's supposed to have, but there was very little enjoyment or humour to be found in this film for me. I actually found it kind of disturbing.

To put it to you another way, I left the theater going, "That was based on a KIDS book??" Now I really want to read it, because I can't imagine what the message could be, or how it could make any kid feel better about anything.

And what the fuck man, owls? I had no idea what was going on at that point.

If I'm totally missing the point of this movie, feel free to enlighten me. I'm not being harsh on it for harshness' sake, I just really don't get it.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and you know what? I just found out that there are only ten lines of text in the original book, which means that no one who has ANY affection for this movie at all has the right to complain about a five minute Saturday Night Live sketch being made into a movie, ever again.

In fact, I welcome anyone's effort to explain to me why Where The Wild Things Are deserved to be made into a film any more than Wayne's World or Ladies Man.


Sean said...

Caesar, whether you liked the story, or the movie in general, you can't argue with the fact that it was visually stunning.

If you haven't read the book, then I understand some of your confusion, and I recommend you swing by Chapters, hit the Kids section and find the book, where it will take you about 3 minutes to read completely.

I'll give you a full synopsis: Max travels to an Island, meets the Wild Things, they make him King, they dance, he gets lonely, he goes home.

The beauty of this movie is knowing that in the book, the Wild Things don't have lines, they don't have personalities...Hell, they don't even have names. (Well, true devotees of the book know that they do, but not in the book itself, and they are not the same names as in the movie.) Spike Jonze created the entire story of what happened on the island from his own mind, along with Maurice Sendak and Dave Eggers. If you're a fan of Being John Malkovich or Adaptation, how can you not see the similarities in terms of 'imagination'?

If you strip it to the core, then you can see the Wild Things as unlikeable characters, but each of them are borne out of Max's imagination, and it's no coincidence that they all have some of Max's undesirable traits: anger, ego, a feeling of not being wanted, and so much more. They are all a part of Max...not their own entities.

You can say that Carol is an unlikeable character because "he mutilates his friend and almost murders a little boy", but you're not seeing what it truly is, and that's likely because you didn't read (and love) the book. Going in blind, I can see how you can find it disturbing.

Yes, it was based on a Kids book, but all along, Spike Jonze said that it wasn't a kids movie but rather a movie 'about childhood.' Surely you can see that. Once you read the book, you'll see what I mean...it's a skeleton framework to allow for expansion.

As for your SNL comparison, and why it 'deserved' to be made into a movie...well, a book that has delighted generations of children (it's almost 50 years old) and won a Caldecott Medal is a tad higher than a Ladies Man sketch...bad comparison.

As far as the owls go...I had no fucking clue either. What the hell?

Lee, I agree with you that there were some images that wouldn't be easy for younger children to take, and I thought the same thing with the ocean shot, but Lucas is 8, and he was ok with everything, including the scene where Carol was chasing Max.

I loved the voices and characteristics of The Wild Things, I thought that was a definite highlight, and Max Records as Max was quite honestly one of the best performances by a child that I've ever seen in my life.

Anonymous said...

Oh absolutely, visually stunning, it looked great. No argument there. And Max Records was great too.

And I get that the monsters were each a representation of Max's personality, and that it was a movie about the loneliness and awkwardness of childhood, but what I don't get is why I should care. I've always had problems with movies with nothing but unlikable characters, and WWTA is just that.

I don't like Max or any of his monster buddies (i guess KW was okay) and as such, never really cared what happened to him. In fact I think I was kind of waiting for him to learn some sort of life lesson or get some sort of comeuppance, but I don't think that ever happened. He just left and went home and gave his mom a hug, which I guess is something.

Anyway, I suppose I would have been more invested in the movie had I read the book, but as an outsider I can say that there was nothing in this film to really grab my attention.

Also, awards, touching the hearts and minds of children everywhere, blah blah blah, I get that and that's all well and good. But the book has next to zero content and I can't justify making that into a movie. I mean, I love Green Eggs & Ham but if someone made a movie out of that book I'd think they were idiots and wouldn't have any desire to see it...and I think that book is just as beloved and even longer than WWTA. A Wayne's World or Ladies Man sketch has more content in one minute than the entirety of the WWTA book and I guarantee that I'll laugh more during five minutes of one of those sketches than I did the entire WWTA movie. So what's more worthy of the feature film treatment? I guess it's largely down to personal significance, and WWTA had none for me, so I can't see much good in it.

Here's a better comparison for you: do you think Beowulf deserved to be made into a movie? It's older than dirt, well known, and lauded as far as I'm aware.


Sean said...

Who are either (or any) of us to say what deserves to be “worthy of future film treatment”? If we could choose, I’m sure there are a lot of films that neither of us would have green-lighted (lit?). While I appreciate your disdain and disinterest in this movie, I don’t think it’s really fair to say it didn’t deserve to be made. My son thinks it may be the greatest movie he’s ever seen, and he wants to go see it again…and he’s never asked me to take him to the theatre twice…not for Star Wars, Spider-man, Iron Man, or a Pixar film, all staples of his cinematic diet. For every viewer like you who didn’t like it, there’s someone out there who had his or her mind blown by it. Maybe that person is an 8-year-old like Lucas, who will tell HIS kids one day about when he was a kid and saw this movie that he loved, from a book that his dad used to read him every night. You can’t honestly tell me that THAT holds no value with you, independent of your own opinion of the movie.

Yes, you would have been more invested in the movie if you had read the book. I loved it as a kid, and first read it to Lucas about 5 years ago. When I heard it was being made into a live-action movie, I was skeptical, but when the trailer was released in the Spring, I had goosebumps the first time I saw it, and tears in my eyes. That’s the power of the book for people who loved it when they were children…you don’t have that because you never experienced the book. My expectations were high going in, and in the theatre while I was watching it, it was far from perfect. I’m not putting it on my All-Time list, but I really did enjoy it. And I enjoy it more and more as I think about it…and I will be taking Lucas to see it again.

You were waiting for Max to get his comeuppance? Why? What did he do? He’s just a kid. Just a kid, being a kid. He was defiant, chased the dog with a fork and bit his mom. I’m not saying that’s normal…but in the scope of a movie about a kid, you have to give some context as to why the kid is lonely and acting out. He didn’t just go home and hug his mom, he realized that he missed and needed his mom and his home. That’s what his life lesson was, and that’s pretty huge for a kid. The line in the book (from memory…I don’t have it in front of me) as to why Max decided to leave the island is “And Max, the King of all Wild Things was lonely, and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” Check out this link (http://worldsstrongestlibrarian.com/4040/7-life-lessons-we-can-learn-from-where-the-wild-things-are/), which is an article about the book, NOT the movie.

We’ve been friends for close to 15 years now, and I’ve always respected your opinions, but my friend, I’ve never laughed as hard at anything you’ve said than this line: “A Wayne's World or Ladies Man sketch has more content in one minute than the entirety of the WWTA book.” Come on, man! Especially since YOU’VE NEVER READ THE BOOK!

You really love The Ladies Man, huh? Are you just sitting around with some Courvoisier, taking phone calls? :)

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha, that is not the funniest thing I've ever said, or even the most ridiculous! And I stand by it -- what I meant was, more content in the sense of more sentences/dialogue, that sort of thing. Like, reading WWTA takes no time at all whereas watching an SNL sketch takes five to ten minutes. And you know, come to think of it, I don't think I've seen Ladies Man, but I loved Night At The Roxbury.

And you know, you're right, it's not for me to say a film does or does not deserve to be made on the strength of it's original property. I think my opinion was based mostly on length of the original story, and if that is the only criteria to be considered, then WWTA did not deserve to be made into a film, any more than my horoscope or a news headline about a dog show. BUT, where WWTA may lack in length (notice I did not say 'content' this time), it makes up in other areas, like poignancy, or cultural impact, or emotional resonance, etc etc. I think I might have ignored those factors because for me those things did not exist, having never read the book. For me it's just a ten-line story I heard of.

So anyhoo. My bad on that point, though I still maintain that everything I said makes perfect sense from my perspective.

As for Max's comeuppance, I guess I wanted him to show a little more realization that you can't lie about having a sadness shield and assume kingship of a group of flesh-eating monsters and expect much good to come of it. Let me put it to you this way: I wasn't convinced that Max returned to his mom because he learned a lesson, or because he was scared to be in the land of the Wild Things any longer.

Anyway, I'm glad you and your boy enjoyed it; I really do think it's a well done film, but what it does just doesn't do it for me, if that makes any sense.