Where the Wild Things Are
(PG) Roadshow DVD/BD
“Let the wild rumpus start!”
A film that divides critics does so generally because everyone has something invested in the outcome. Where the Wild Things Are is such a classic childhood staple that even deciding to put it on film is asking for an avalanche of problems.
Why? Because everyone has read the book to their children and for each reader their interpretation of the story is the correct version.
Director Spike Jonze and screenwriter David Eggers had to take a book with barely 100 words and fill in substantial gaps with their artistry and creativity.
The result is a film that is hard to categorise. It is a scary monster of a film that deals with the scary monster in all of us: loneliness and the need to fit in.
Max (Max Records) is alone and acting up: at his sister for not standing up for him and at his mum’s new boyfriend and her apparent distance. In a fit of rage, he escapes to a subconscious island where, with trepidation, he befriends the scary Wild Things.
In a bluff with the Wild Things (because they threaten to eat him) Max claims to be a king who can rule them — only to discover that the uneasy bunch of monsters, who all have their own issues, aren’t so easy to rule over.
Of course it isn’t until Max leaves that the Wild Things realise how much Max meant to them and vice versa. And this sense of belonging with the Wild Things gives Max the confidence he needs in the real world.
Spike Jonze acknowledges that boys need wild places to escape to so they can make sense of the real world; especially the adult world that brings a whole new set of problems for them.
Records’ performance is the beating, bellowing heart of the film; his amazing performance in his scruffy wolf suit and golden crown is a delight. He captures the wild imagination in every boy, storming forts and mock fighting with abandon.
The film’s tone is often scary and foreboding and probably not recommended for the under-10 crowd. But, as well as being a visual treat, there is final comfort in the form of a loving home and family.