And replacing a regular hot meal with a slice of cake is basically replacing the essentials of life (the warmth of home, etc.) with a luxury dish that, in this context, almost carries the connotation of parental overcompensation. (I'm probably not wording that as well as I could, but time is tight...)
I may respond to some of the other points, but for now, Glenn Kenny has posted his report on his second viewing of the film:
... And while one of my commenters rather hilariously compared the film's creatures to the Hanna-Barbara live-action creatures The Banana Splits, the animatronic/CGI hybrids are entirely believable and all beautifully voiced. The problem is, once I came to believe in them, I wanted to get away from them as fast as humanly possible. If the film's Max is, let's face it, a bit of a dick even as nine-year-olds go, these whingey wild things are simply annoying, and not in a particularly engaging way. Watching the rages of the most complicated thing, Carol, as he destroys the forest homes of the wild things while moaning how things aren't supposed to be like this, I was rather reminded of the half-fake tantrums that singer David Thomas throws during Pere Ubu sets. The thing is that said tantrums are punctuated and/or buttressed by genuinely visionary, kick-ass rock and roll. This is what some people call a dialectic. In any case, Carol doesn't have the rest of Pere Ubu backing him up, just these other neurotic feathery simps.More later. Gotta get the kids from preschool.
... Maurice Sendak's original book was about an awful lot of things (and with so few words!), one of which was the infectious fun of potentially destructive mischief-making. Here, the mischief is bombastic, ugly, and scored to Karen O's lameoid simulation of a Go Team! song. The film knows plenty about confusion and reality and sadness, okay; it knows almost nothing about a good time, and laughter. ("Does anybody remember laughter?"—R. Plant) ...
As for the ending: yes, maybe I overreacted...and maybe not. I'll allow that the expression on Max's face as his mother begins to sleep, and he continues munching on his cake is finally unreadable, but as far as I'm concerned the damn kid is still a little too pleased with himself. . . .
Count me among the bored and dissapointed along with Ryan H., Chattaway, Whitman, LibrarianDeb, and Glenn Kenny on this one. Bored. Bored. Bored. I loved Maurice Sendak's artwork in a whole number of books when I was little (Where the Wild Things Are
was just one of them). But I cannot believe how Jonze and Eggers turned this into an angsty angstsy angst-fest full of the scary, loveable, dangerous looking monsters I remember from my childhood transformed into petty, annoying, whiny,
large brats. In this film it took about 5 minutes of them talking for them to not be scary any more. Emo psycho-babble, anyone? Complaining about being sad and lonely and "I wanna!" and "I don't wanna!" and blah, blah, blah. Absolutely nothing of the "numinous" that C.S. Lewis talked about and advocated for fairy tales AND the whimsey necessary in order to not take yourself too seriously (both of which is the sort of thing you can get from Pan's Labyrinth
, Sleeping Beauty
, or heck, even Enchanted
). Some of Grimm's Fairy Tales
were sad and dark, but they didn't screw around trying to be all psychologically PC for the adults of the time. One of the saddest fairy tales of all time, George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind
, explores a number of difficult emotions dealt with by a child, but it was redemptive instead of merely depressing. T.H. White's Sword and the Stone
has young children fighting and quarreling with each other (as do the Narnia stories), but the point of the petty arguing wasn't to demonstrate sadness (and hopelessness, the sun, after all, is going to die), it was to provide a situation for the character to overcome and learn from (and ultimately grow in moral character and self-sacrifice).
Just look at Sendack's book for Pete's sake. There's a light or a joy in the eyes of the monsters in those illustrations. The CGI'd eyes of the monsters in this rubbish are large, frequently tear-filled, and ultimately sorrowful. Max just helps them blink away the tears for a little while, until he isn't really able to change anything.
I knew this reminded me of something though from when I was a kid. The quarrels of the wild things in this film are exactly like the quarrels my little friends and I used to have in the middle of a baseball game years and years ago. But "exactly like" isn't quite true. None of us brooded over getting hit in the back of the head with a baseball, snowball, pinecone, dirt clod, whatever. I refuse to believe children are this sad and mopey all the time. And if some of them are, they certainly don't need a fantasy film to help continue and cement the mood. In my personal opinion, fantasy stories are supposed to awaken a sense of "otherness" in the person hearing the story. This, in turn, affects the way you view the real world around you. C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald's fairy tales did that. Maurice Sendack and Arthur Rackham's fairy tale illustrations did that. Jonze & Eggers angsty, talky film doesn't, and that
is it's greatest crime.
Angst? Check. Weltschmerz? Check. Depression? Check.
8-year-old crisis? Check. Exit the awe, or wonder, or the "numinous", or the "otherness," or the whimsy of Sendack.
On another side note: Every single time Carol cried or complained about something, all I could think of was that he should have been sitting in the office of Dr. Melfi. Maybe that helped ruin it for me too, but the whining Carol has a voice too distinctive. It just sounded off without all the appropriate and descriptive curse words that are supposed to go along with that sort of thing.
Great visuals. Nice turning some of the illustrations into images on the film. Great performance by Max Records. Bad, bad, scriptwriting.
Edited by Persiflage, 05 December 2010 - 06:07 PM.