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Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are
Actors: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper
Director: Spike Jonze
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
PG     2010     1hr 41min

"Let the wild rumpus start!" Nine-year-old Max runs away from home and sails across the sea to become king of the land Where the Wild Things Are. King Max rules a wondrous realm of gigantic fuzzy monsters--but being king m...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper
Director: Spike Jonze
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Family Films, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/02/2010
Theatrical Release Date: 10/16/2009
Release Year: 2010
Run Time: 1hr 41min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 22
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Daniel W. from LANSING, MI
Reviewed on 2/17/2015...
This is a rather hard review to write. Is it as good as the book? No. ( Is any movie based on a book?) Does it get the feel of the book? It certainly comes miles closer than the awful How the Grinch Stole Christmas ( the live action version) or the Cat in the Hat (ditto) It does capture the wonder and frustrations and anger of being a child very well. As with any Spike Jonze movie, it has its share of sweet visuals and they make the "Wild Things" as believable as they can. And James Gandolfini conveys great menace with just his voice ( no doubt helped by his many years on the Sopranos) As with bringing any childrens book to the screen they had to pad the movie with lots of stuff not in the book, but they stick with the feel very well. Not a perfect movie, but a very interesting one.
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Shannon W.
Reviewed on 9/9/2012...
one of the worst ever had to stop watching not even half way through the movie
2 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mike M. (mmooneybsa) from RICHMOND, VA
Reviewed on 8/30/2012...
This movie was fantastic!

I did not get this for children, I got it for 2 adults, and we both loved it. There is something seriously wrong with all of these people saying there wasn't a plot; there is a plot: it's about life, love, & childhood. I could relate most of the scenes to some time during my life, with me and other people having emotional overreactions just like these characters do, usually due to being hurt by the people we love.

Note: I could see younger children being terrified by this movie, it does not hold back on the emotional outrage that most of us act out during the rough times of our lives.
9 of 9 member(s) found this review helpful.
Tara A. (tarama) from PUEBLO, CO
Reviewed on 8/17/2010...
I was so dissappointed. I loved the book and characters as a kid, but the movie was so boring. No storyline, no plot. I still don't get it.
5 of 9 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Outstanding - ignore some critics claims this isn't for kids
Jon | NY | 01/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's a funny thing: adults have no problem loading films with whizzing bullets, raging flames and bellowing anger and slap a PG rating on it, but the moment the protagonist is a child they back off and claim "Whoa - this is too intense and scary!".


The claims that this film is a little intense are true - it IS intense because it's much more honest and real than any other films for children available in the last thirty years. By 'for children' I mean ALL children, any age.
Those who can't recall what it was like to be a kid aren't going to get it. They will be those who don't recall what it was like to be frightened, who don't recall how it feels to be second best to those they love most, who never had to carve out a slice of reality (or unreality) for themselves to make sense of the incomprehensible.

The world portrayed in the film is the real world where individuals live their own lives, sometimes at the expense of the feelings of those immediately around them, especially family. This may be the source of the films undeserved reputation as "scary" - while it is certainly no ghetto, "Max" the child protoganist lives in a realistically portrayed lower income neighborhood and his familial troubles are ones all too many children are accustomed to. He responds to these cares in ways that are well documented in child psychology. If this setting is considered by some as too scary for children then we have only ourselves to blame. This is how the real world is - it is not an Eighties family sit-com.

My nephew (5) and neice (9) are currently going through their parents divorce. Without spelling out the obvious overmuch, it was with a little trepidation that my Brother and I took them to see this yesterday. They're pretty resilient kids and they internalise more than they let on, acting out infrequently but we still weren't sure. They handled it fine and they "got it".

It seems to me modern American parents have bee brainwashed into believing that only a saccahrine sunny diet is suitable for youngsters - is this perhaps signs of guilt for the dangerous mess we've made of the world, that we must protect them at all turns, from life and living itself?

I've got news for you: the world has always been a scary place to kids, whether it was Indian attacks, Great Depressions, A-bombs or terrorists the world continues to turn and there's always a new bogey-man to shield our kids from. But to never let a hint of reality through is unhealthy.
For a hundred generations children have been told fairytales about death and loss and danger (sex and responsibility, too). Only relatively recently has the PC craze in American culture turned on this traditional method of exposing kids to reality. How many people in my generation (I'm 41) saw Gene Wilder in "The Little Prince" in the Seventies?

The film's lesson as it is given implies that immense things may crash around you, some of which may have been set in motion by yourself and you must cope as well as you can. Not everything is perfect and never will be; to expect such perfection is immature and unreasonable. And yet sincere contrition, empathy and love will help your world turn, turn it away from the dark scary things. Perhaps this also is a source of the negative impression of this film: the film accepts that the world is a dangerous, sometimes callous and frightening place. This is not a significant truism in the realm of modern juvenile entertainment where nine year olds easily defeat ninjas and aliens and are always smarter than those silly adults, yet it is difficult to deny. It's utilization by Spike Jonze is counter-revolutionary for the better.

A previous reviewer missed the point when they said that "Max" abandons his friends, the monsters, at the films end and what kind of lesson is that?
The monsters are not his friends - they are part of him, they are the facets of his own personality allowed to run amok.

When Max leaves the monster island at the end it is because he's a little wiser and more in control. He doesn't feel the need to act out and run wild.
He has seen firsthand that acts that are inherently violent, regardless of playful intent, have real and negative consequences, but he needed to see them in this fairytale place to understand his own responsibilty.
Only then is he ready to come home and be civil with the people who love him.

And yet, he loves the monsters and howls for them because they all are a part of him or of the systems that dictate the form of his life. They are his Id run wild and free as he would like to be, yet not wild with malice (destructive as they are) and thus worthy of mourning. They help save him from those self-destructive aspects in himself like the monster "Carol" because he isn't meant to live "Where the Wild Things Are". He grows more than most adults will in a lifetime by coming to terms with these violent emotional 'monsters'. He has seen them and he has seen them in himself. He will never be free of them but he knows what is important - his love for his family.

The dialogue in the film is fascinating and a key to the whole. It is kid talk. A mystery to adults, it has it's own logic and rules like "Faerie" or "Wonderland". One must navigate carefully to avoid catastrophe as Max discovers. I think my neice understood it better than I did, even if the metaphor escaped her. And so it is within ourselves if we might regard our own inner workings as "monsters" - the wrong inflection or phrasing, even when addressing ourselves, sets off whole chains of sometimes violent emotion.

In the end, my neice and nephew left the theatre understanding that with someone to love you and someone to love everything is alright - you may go away to confront your own demons and fears for a time but the ones you care for and that care for you will be there waiting, no matter what age you are.

And that makes the world and this film alright.

PS - A brief mention of the soundtrack is in order: it too is outstanding. It has what I can only describe as a 1970s 'feel' too it - it is a little wild, unpolished, honest, hairy, chirpy and sweet all at once.

The first thing I thought of on listening as the film progressed were the children's album by Marlo Thomas "Free To Be You and Me" and the end/closing titles song as a childrens version of Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" with all it's enthusiastic happy hoots and howls. It had me as choked up as I haven't been in a long time over a movie.
Thanks, Maurice, Karen, Spike et al.

A movie best suited for 8 or 9 year olds... PG-9?
M. Mullin | NE | 03/05/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Perhaps I didn't read far enough in the other reviews...but it seemed pretty much like a bunch of adults discussing the deep psychological imagery, etc., but not how the movie makes a kid feel. A kid, I said, not an over-intellectualizing adult.

So I'm going to tell you how my twin, almost 7 year old, very well-behaved, socially well-liked, intelligent and yet, quite tenderhearted girls responded. I'm grateful that I watched it with them, I'll tell you that. I did have to comfort them a little because Max was having a pretty rough day for a little guy, and it made them feel very bad for him. You have to put up with quite a bit of grimness before you get to the fanciful part in this movie, and even that isn't ever really what I'd call stress-free...

One of my girls doesn't feel well today, so it doesn't surprise me that she chose to go to her room mid-way thru it and watch a Barbie movie. You don't feel well, and you prefer comforting things, I can understand that. The other stayed for the whole thing and when I asked her what she thought at the end, she said it was "okay." I did notice her tearing up when Max was floating away and he and the monsters were howling at each other across the water. That was a pretty nice, sentimental ending. Keep in mind, though, that just before that, on the beach, one of the monsters admitted that Max was the only king they ever had that they didn't EAT... and I think the implications of that are a little gothic, but I'm pretty sure my kids missed the significance of that little reference. Probably best.

There are those who claim that exposing children to "actual life-like stress" in a movie is good for them, instead of the perpetually sunny characters in say, a Disney movie. Well, you were all children once, and doubtlessly, you remember thinking that most things that were supposed to be "good for you", just weren't very pleasant? I know I do. I'm not sure either girl really enjoyed the movie, Which is why they wanted to watch a movie in the first place, to be entertained. It's a movie - not therapy, not medicine.

The fact is, real life is only too happy to shove hardship and ugliness and fear their direction, I don't need to spoon-feed it to them as entertainment. I don't think of childhood as a weakness or being too immature somehow; a happy child has a good foundation to grow into a strong adult. Childhood is a time to build up their immunity to negativity, fill up the tank of their self-esteem, and show them the sweet parts of life that we hope will become their goals as adults. I'm going to let mine enjoy childhood and innocence, because that is the stage they are supposed to be at right now, and I know adulthood and maturity will come with time. I won't block it, but I reserve the right to cushion it a little bit and let them digest it in smaller, more manageable pieces at a time.

Now, you might think that a boy would appreciate this movie a little more, perhaps...and you may be right. Max is "all boy" and them some, quite a handful. ADHD anyone? Clearly, Mom has a lot on her mind, being a single mom with at least two children, one appears to be a teenager, she's not doing well at work and also may be seeing a new man, which is guaranteed to cause issues with a boy Max's age. Max is a surprisingly sensitive boy at times, even a bit melancholic for his age and obviously has some aggression issues. The first part, overall, has a pervasive feeling of depression.

As others have mentioned, one difference in the movie vs. the book was that Max ran away and hid instead of having him go to the Wild Place from his bedroom, like the book. They could just have easily have done it the other way...but I understood the imagery of running away from what you think is how other people treat you, and discovering that you can't escape yourself or your problems by doing that, because it comes with you... Where ever you go, there you are.

The boy matures a bit during the movie, mostly because the monsters, for the most part, seem slightly less mature, emotionally, than he is. One of the best ways I've discovered as a teaching assistant to control children who misbehave is to give them enough responsibility to keep them too busy to continue with the undesirable habits, like having a person who always talks in line be in charge of watching to make sure nobody talks in line. Of course, the monsters are supposed to be aspects of himself that he is trying to control and integrate peacefully into himself as a whole person, but kids will watch it on the obvious level...and to them, the monsters aren't Max.

Is it a good movie? Yes, if you are an adult appreciating it for it's cinematic or psychological merits. If you are a kid... well, I work with third graders, 8 or 9 years old, and I think they'd be okay with it more than my girls who are only nearing 7 years old, and are in first grade. This falls in that gray area between PG and PG-13, I can only call it... PG-9? I do wish that with all the children's movies which have come out lately that have incorporated some really kind of adult themes, that there was some way of telling which ones to be more careful about. Notice, I didn't say, avoid, or censor...just be careful, take into account how your child may react. Some children may have a more sympathetic reaction than others. I guess it just comes down to my responsibility as a parent possibly being to watch the movie before I allow them to, just so I know what to look for. Until they're a few years older, I'll just have to do that."
A Kids Movie For Grown-Ups
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 10/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is a kids movie that isn't for kids. Let me explain...

The short, children's story that this film is based on (written by Maurice Sendak) has been a favorite of many kids. Note, however, that most of those children are now grown adults with fond memories of the book. I can remember reading it myself about ten dozen times when I was growing up, so I have just as fond of memories as the next person. But this movie isn't for modern-day kids. And this is where much of the confusion will lay for those who decide to take their preteens to see it.

The message of this film is deep. VERY deep. In fact, most kids (and probably some adults) will have difficulties capturing it. This is probably why Warner Brothers Studios had such a big problem with director Spike Jonze's final cut. It isn't a family movie, but the book most definitely is. This is a movie about the angst of growing up and into teen-hood. This lonely journey is often rife with internal turmoil, a dash of Oedipus complex, and the releasing of deep-seeded childhood emotions, and all of this is shown on some level via the artistic tapestry that is this movie. And it is done very well in the artistic department.

Little known actor Max Records plays Max, this boy who's vivid imagination allows the rumpus to begin. Running away from his mother after a bitter argument (and a biting one), Max flees to his imaginary world Where The Wild Things Are. This analogy is taken to extremes as we see all of Max's emotions doled out by the Wild Creatures he's created. The most recognizable will be Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) as Max's angry and self-indulgent alter-ego. He tears down anything he doesn't like anymore, and this is precisely how the young Max feels about the real world he's left behind. KW (voiced by Lauren Ambrose) is the Oedipus portion of Max, and much can be gleaned from this when we see KW carry in two owl friends who Max only hears squawking (indicating he doesn't understand his mother's friends). The other Wild Things are in various stages of redirection as Max tries to work through his rough emotional state. Should he remain King of this Wild Place or return to become a budding teenager with real-world responsibilities?

Again, the message isn't in-your-face -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- but it's also very far removed from what most movie-goers will think of as a "kids film." Again, not necessarily a bad thing but, parents, be prepared to answer some tough questions about what the movie was supposed to be about. This isn't some insipidly, force-it-down-your-throat message, which is refreshing, but the message is so far down the rabbit-hole that you might not be able to explain it adequately to the younger amongst your family. Just something to be mindful of.

The movie is loaded with violence, including ripping trees apart, thumping heads with dirt clods, and the yanking off of a monster's extremity. Be forewarned.

Like I said, this is a kids movie that isn't for kids. It's for those kids who are now grown up and have fond memories of the book. So if you're a parent who saw the cuddly looking beasts and the young Max chatting with them, and thought that this would be a good matinee to take the kiddies to ...think again.

Even so, the artistry of the film was absolutely astounding. It's also quite a sad film (some people were sniffling next to me in the theater). The darkness of the Wild World was initially foreboding but eventually comes to life as Max interacts with his internal creatures. The fort they build is something to make the mouth drop, and the desert scenes were flat-out gorgeous. Which is why I enjoyed it so much. That, and it let me remember what it was like to be a messed up kid again."