Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wild Things

Went to see Where the Wild Things Are with Kyle and the boys. I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it.

There were some beautiful moments in this film, though NONE of them included the Wild Things- they were all just lovely moments of truth from Max's point of view, that brought back to me all the passions and heartaches of being a kid. Max, crying because his sister's friends broke his igloo, Max destroying his sister's room because he is so angry about it, Max lying under his mom's desk, looking lovingly at her face at an odd angle, pulling gently on the toe of her pantyhose to get her attention (that last one was so beautifully shot and so honest it made me cry).

But when he finally gets to Where the Wild Things Are, the movie just disintegrates. Some of the Wild Things have personalities that reflect aspects of Max's own (or of people in Max's life). One of them, called "KW" obviously represents Max's sister Claire and his feelings about her growing up. She goes off and talks to "Bob" and "Teri" (a couple of owls who everyone seems to understand except for Max and Carol; Carol is the angry monster who exemplifies Max at his wildest and angriest), leaving her old playmates who long to have her back. Bob and Teri are standing in for his sister's friends, who Max can't understand.

But KW is the only Wild Thing who is even remotely likeable. The other Wild Things are so obnoxious and self-centered. They fight, and argue, snap at each other and expect Max to fix all of their problems for them, and when he doesn't, they threaten to eat him! Living with them looks like a horrible nightmare!

To top it off, they live in a bland, colorless world that reminds me more of something from Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic The Road than of someplace a wild young boy would dream of going.

Where is the color, joy, and magic of childhood? The most fun thing the beasts do in this movie is have a dirt clod war, and everyone in it ends up squabbling and angry anyhow.

I just don't get it. Why would anyone imagine this? If they did, why wouldn't they want to wake themselves up as soon as possible?

I always thought the book was about a young boy's quest for self-control, his need to tame the Wild Things inside of him so that he can function in the world, and that the beasts represented his own wild side- his becoming their King representing his mastery of his own emotions.

And I guess the movie did present the story in that way. However, it made the journey from out-of-control young boy to emotionally mature young boy look dark, disturbing and fraught with danger.

To me, acquiring self-control is an act of great courage that leads to great reward! How interesting it would have been if the movie focused more on Max's efforts to control the beasts within rather than what happens once they make him their King (which happens right away with no struggle).

What if he had to trick each beast, trap it, train it, bend it to his will, each one symbolizing a struggle in his life? Wouldn't that have made a much more interesting movie, and one much more true to the theme of the story?

As it was, I just didn't see the point of anything that was happening. Granted, seeing Wild Thing Carol and his uncontrollable anger helps Max to understand how destructive his own behavior is. But other than Carol and KW, the other characters were superfluous, though I love Catherine O'Hara, so I enjoyed her performance as Judith, because she is amazing in everything she does!

I also would not recommend seeing this with your kids. There is nothing bad in it (except bratty behavior from Max), but after an hour of obscure psychobabble amongst colorless creatures that seems to go nowhere, my kids were restless. Once the popcorn ran out, they all wanted to go home.

1 comment:

Kyle Ford said...

A review that goes more into my "father figure and broken family" read of the movie.