Warning: Spoilers (Although the movie pretty much spoils the books good name)
“I’m glad I didn’t pay money to see this.” – My Mother
This week, my mom and I decided to watch “Where the Wild Things Are.” Based on one of my favorite books from when I was a child.
At first we were going to see how it matched up with the book. After spending hours reading the 30 page picture book, we started to watch the movie. The first two scenes of the book were reenacted, but from there on, it gets pretty crazy.
Taking Maurice Sendak’s classic tale of a boy who escapes timeout to a land of his own creativity where he is the wildest of the wild, Spike Jonze turns it into a tale of a boy dealing with his anger towards his mother by becoming the king of a band of monsters in his fantasy. What was originally a rumpus with wild monsters is twisted into a sad coming of age piece with oversized teddy bears that need group therapy.
Sadness emanates from the movie. In the beginning, Max’s igloo is crushed by his older sister’s boy toy. Of course, mom isn’t around because she is a single mother who has to juggle work, family, and dating. An extra school scene is added where the teacher talks about the sun dying, but not before all of mankind is wiped out for any number of reasons. “Let the Wild Rumpus Start!” (Sendak, 22)
It only gets more abysmal when he makes it to “where the wild things are” (Sendak, 15). He arrives crashing onto the coast (without a sweet looking sea monster from the book, I might add) amidst the main monster, Carol, destroying people’s houses because his girlfriend walked out on him. All of other monsters turn out to have problems as well. The goat one has issues with being the smallest in the pack, there is another couple that has quarrels as well. And the buffalo, nobody wants anything to do with him.
Max then decides to become a con artist. He tells them that he can solve all their problems if they make him king. Of course, they buy into it and they have a very short lived, semi-wild rumpus. After bickering over building the fort they were supposed to all live in harmony within, they decide to take out some of their aggression with a mud ball fight. This, of course, leaves everyone bruised and angrier at each other. Two owls deliver the saddest excuse for a knock knock joke before the wild things realize that they have been dooped.
Max is on the lam, and hides out in the stomach (WTF?!) of a monster who wasn’t around when he was exposed. Learning what his mother went through trying to make him happy, he decides to sail back to the real world. When he returns home after running away, his mother punishes him how any mother would punish a child who runs away. With cake.
This children’s movie had it all. It made me cry (see whole paragraph of sad), it made me sick (hid in a monster’s stomach), it made me smile (I was glad it was over), and most importantly it made me wonder why (would Spike Jonze do that to my childhood?)
Think of the children, do not watch this movie!