Director Spike Jonze makes the definitive version of Maurice Sendak’s acclaimed book, Where the Wild Things Are. At times both poignant, bittersweet, funny and heartwarming, the movie is not one that all children will connect with and the DVD offers a mixed bag of features.
Young Max (Max Records) is a lonely both who has a hard time connecting to his mother (Catherine Keener) and sister. When an argument forces Max to run away from home, he ends up on a mysterious island with giant “wild things” that have similar problems of their own.
Where the Wild Things Are, the film, is interesting as Jonze gives audiences a stark look at childhood, one where children are different and lonely. Each Wild Thing is a facet of Max’s personality from the volatile Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) to the sisterly KW (voiced by Lauren Ambrose). The Wild Things and Max go through a journey where not everything is resolved at the end and some things just have to change after the movies over lending the movie a natural progression of life. The actual creatures are a thing of beauty and a triumph for a movie that many thought would only work as an animated feature. Crafted by the Jim Henson Company all the monsters look authentic and the full-length shots of them jumping and walking are just breath-taking. It’s also phenomenal how the voice actor’s faces and tones matched perfectly with their character. The movie is very dark at times with characters who yell at each other quite a bit and a dark turn where Carol chases Max, threatening to eat him. These scenes may scare little kids and a lot of the dark subject matter between Max and his mother may not connect with children. This can best be summed up as a movie for adults who feel like kids at heart.
If you’re renting this it’s a waste of time as there are no bonus materials but a slew of previews for things you can see online. The DVD and Blu-Ray also have surprisingly little considering the process this movie took to hit theaters. The DVD only has four webisodes that supposedly offer little insight into anything interesting and the Blu-Ray has an animated short, an incredibly short HBO First Look you can catch on television and standard/digital copies of the film. It’s sad that there are no in-depth features on the creature design or the various routes this movie took to get to the screen, several companies including Disney have attempted to make Sendak’s book into a movie so it would have been great to include some of that.
For anyone who’s read this book as a child, you’ll do well to pick up the movie. It’s not a kid’s film and that’s a good thing as it truly brings out the wild thing in all of us as the tagline says and takes us on a journey that will make you reminisce. The DVD and Blu-Ray are bland and lifeless but the movie makes up for lack of features, almost.