QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Where the Wild Things Are

"The day Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind or another, his mother said 'Stop it' but Max said 'I'll eat you up' so he was sent to his room with nothing to eat, and in his room the walls grew with trees and became a forest and the world all around, and Max took a boat and sailed in over days and in and out of weeks to where the wild things are and they roared their terrible roars and showed their terrible claws, and gnashed their terrible teeth but Max scared them all with the terrible trick of staring into their yellow eyes and not blinking, so they made Max their king. And Max said 'Let the wild rumpus start.' But then Max felt hungry and from far away across the world he could smell something good to eat. So Max said he was going to leave but the wild things said 'Oh no, don't go, we'll eat you up we love you so.' But Max got in his boat and sailed in and out of weeks and over days back to his room where his dinner was waiting, and it was still warm."

(From memory, so probably that has errors. I think I'm a sentence or two short, but the first half of the book really is one long sentence.)

The movie is, well, different. Everything needs to be expanded to make that short a story into a show of any length. Most of the expansion is on the island of the Wild Things. The movie has him with has a sister, living with his divorced and stressed mom, and a severe lack of friends but a lot of upheaval in his life (see "divorced"), so he acts out.

When he gets to the island he is cold and wet, but sees a fire and goes to it, and there are the Wild Things.

This movie makes excellent use of non-verbal communication throughout. All of the monsters are like Sweetums ("Jack not name, jack job") from the Muppets, but with very emotion filled faces (a nice use of CG). The island world is forest, seashore, desert and cave. The constructions the Wild Things make remind me a lot of Andy Goldsworthy's art.

The Wild Things all have their own problems with loneliness, being heard, others not understanding them, sadness, acting out, and they are the sort that eat their kings. The wild rumpus brings gleeful abandon, but it can not bring long term happiness. The monsters are rough but loving, vicious and scary, but with depth and feelings. Max has some growing to do, and he needs to do it without getting eaten.

I didn't see this with kids, and it probably is too scary for small kids. At the 7pm showing I went to, the large audience had few to no kids.

Four and a half thatched huts out of five.

My rating of the movie is for this as a movie, not as an adaption of a book I clearly know well. As I said, a lot has to be added to pad such a brief book out to just over an hour and half.

Where the Wild Things Are at IMDB

Final thought: the animals (not things) on the island are funny