Where the Wild Things Are [Blu-Ray] Spike Jonze

Where the Wild Things Are [Blu-Ray] Spike Jonze
In adapting Maurice Sendak's timeless children's book Where the Wild Things Are ― itself quite a feat, given that the entire text of the tale is shorter than nearly every review of the film, including this one ― Spike Jonze challenges himself well beyond the beats of the story. Instead of adapting the children's tale (in which nine-year-old Max sails across the sea and befriends a community of giant furry monsters), Jonze has made a remarkable and beautiful, at times dark, scary and dangerous exploration of childhood itself. In other words, not a children's movie at all. Instead, it's a surprisingly emotional and heavy load of a film concerning the ways that children process and undertake responsibility for the emotional lives of adults they can't fully understand. Most of the "narrative" in Jonze's film is fleshed out from the bare bones of Sendak's book (co-written by novelist Dave Eggers, himself no stranger to the complexities of young folks). When we meet Max (remarkable first-timer Max Records), he's a restless kid trying to find his voice amongst distracted adults who've little time for his elaborate imaginings. When he takes off ― the land of the Wild Things emerges through the trees of American suburbia ― he finds himself "king" of the Wild Things, a community of emotionally-damaged and, at times, destructive furry monsters. At its disturbed centre is Carol (James Gandolfini), whose rages and violent tendencies represent every misdirected emotional outburst ever levelled at an innocent kid. For a while, Max's adventure is full of wild rumpuses, giant sleeping piles and great fun, but the emotional damage of this community soon catches up to him, and the creatures unfairly burden Max with fixing all their problems. With almost no CG in creating this world ― the monsters are giant, furry, inhabited creature suits ― the soft, textured realness of Where the Wild Things Are seems revolutionary in the age of computer generated possibilities. As a series of good (albeit repetitive) featurettes reveals, Jonze encouraged as much play as possible in recording and on set: the voice actors (including Catherine O'Hara, Six Feet Under's Lauren Ambrose and There Will Be Blood's Paul Dano) were recorded acting out their characters' behaviours amongst giant foam trees and rocks. The final product is a beautiful, emotionally complex film that brings out a variety of conflicting emotions in the viewer: joy, pain, hurt and disappointment. Just like the richness of childhood Jonze has beautifully brought to life. Plus: short film Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More To Life, more. (Warner)