QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
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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

More movies different than the book

Here's the quick summary of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, which I have read. (I have not seen the movie, I have seen clips.) Grandpa is making pancakes and one flies too far while being flipped. That becomes the inspiration for what is clearly a Tall Tale about an island where food falls from the sky every day. No one cooks, and no food shops exist. Restaurants have open roofs and merely supply patrons with seating and utensils. Then the weather starts turning bad: first unpleasant food, then too much, then too large. Eventually the townsfolk decide they have had enough and build boats from extra large bread and peanut-butter and flee the island. They use the bread to build new, temporary, houses on a far away shore. Then the kids go to sleep and dream about mashed potato mountains.

Final thought: thinks this movie shares as little with the book as Shrek

On movies different than the book

Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang is vastly different in book and movie forms. The list of things the two have in common is shorter than the list of things that changed.

There's an old race car with extraordinary capabilities in both, whistling candy, some of the characters, a trip to the beach. And now I'm running out of similarities.

The book has no Vulgaria, no Vulgarian king who wants to be rid of his wife, no Vulgarian queen afraid of children, no childcatcher or royal toymaker, no plot to kidnap the inventor.

The movie does not have the chocolate shop, the gangsters that rob that shop, the cave hideout of the gangsters, the kids do not get used as part of a robbery scheme, and Monsieur Bon-Bon does not have a secret fudge recipe revealed at the end.

Book is by Ian Flemming (of Bond fame) and screenplay by Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). Albert Broccoli, who is well known for his Bond movies, produced the movie.

Final thought: has made the fudge

Mad Dog And Glory

Mad Dog and Glory (1993) at IMDB

This is a story about De Niro, a crime scene investigator in Chicago who has an ironic nickname "Mad Dog" when he's actually pretty timid, Bill Murray as a loan shark who was nearly killed in a holdup that De Niro walked into, and Uma Thurmond (Glory) who is paying a debt to Murray by being his slave. Murray's character decides to send Glory over to keep De Niro company for a week as a thank you, and then the predictable happens.

Worth noting is that De Niro's assistant CSI is none other than David Caruso, with no scream and no sunglasses. Caruso's character says at one point "If I ever had an intelligent thought it would die lonely."

Minor content advisory: some people think the sex scene between old man De Niro (about 60) and young woman Uma (about 23) is a "can't unsee" moment.

Final thought: thought Murray was good here, and De Niro so-so