If you find a steady diet of Hollywood a little bland, here is a recipe for something completely different. First, take an enduring and iconic children's literary classic—Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (about a rambunctious boy who discovers and conquers a world of giant monsters in a kingdom where he makes the rules) will do nicely. Next, bring in a rule-breaking, visionary, surrealist director like Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) and give him close to $100 million to bring Max and his monsters to the big screen. Then, find a gifted author (albeit one who's never written a screenplay before) like the ironic and whimsical Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) and stir him in as a co-collaborator on the script. Season with the alt-acoustic stylings of musicians Karen O and Carter Burwell; bake for a very long time (at least two years of revisions). Then proudly serve Where the Wild Things Are, a beautiful and disturbing movie about childhood that isn't particularly palatable (or appropriate) for children.
Where the Wild Things Are is in many respects a creative triumph. The casting is terrific—young Max Records brings just the right mix of wild energy and delicate vulnerability to the role of Max, and Catherine Keener is thoroughly believable as his nurturing but over-extended single mother. Equally strong is the voice acting; the diverse roster (including James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker) brings the monsters to wonderfully quirky life.
The film is visually stunning. Though Jonze was reportedly advised repeatedly to render the creatures via CGI, the director was determined to somehow create monsters that Max could physically interact with. To that ...1
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Where the Wild Things Are
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