Movie Review: Where the Wild Things Are

by Emily Hayes

The story we all knew and loved as kids has been transformed into an amazing movie production that even adults can enjoy. Originally a children’s book written by Maurice Sendak and published in 1963, Where the Wild Things Are is now a major motion picture.  Released in theatres on October 16th, 2009, it has quickly become a favorite for moviegoers of all ages.

“Where the Wild Things Are” is the story of a troubled little boy named Max who discovers a whole other world outside of his own. When he is sent to his room one night for disobeying his mother and “making mischief” in his animal costume, his imagination creates a sea and forest that envelop

The cover of Sendak's original children's book.

him, and he sails away to the magic island of the wild things. Away from his mother and all the other things that trouble him, Max embraces a fantasy of mythical creatures, the “wild things.” They in turn transform the way he thinks and acts, as well as what he values.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Directed by Spike Jonze, the film re-created the fantasy land of Max for the book’s original fans,  and turned into a huge success. It was both uplifting and satisfying to most viewers, including myself. However, the film did not need to rely on the story’s original fan base.  Even those without a preexisting love of this children’s classic found the film entertaining and fun.

Perhaps an additional reason for its success as a production is Jonze’s desire to make it appeal to everyone.  Although the book was written for children, Jonze wanted it to accomplish something new.  The original story emphasized the importance of imagination and a child’s love for fiction.  However, the film sparks a family bond, incorporating the appreciation for family and friends.  These life lessons made the storyline meaningful to a wider variety of viewers.

Where the Wild Things Are made $75,789,686 at the box office, the evidence of a successful and popular film. But while the film was a big hit for the majority of its viewers, others found it disappointing. Some were frustrated with Max and the way he handled his problems at home.  Others were disappointed that the film did not meet their expectations, and that it was not differently adapted from the original children’s book.

A poster promoting the 2009 film.

We all fall victim to this; when we know and love a story adapted into a film, we cherish it in its original state.  When it is adapted into a film, we are frustrated to see it twisted and changed around. Yet, I found the story almost identical between the two.   I believe the film in important reminder of the fact that it is important to embrace youth and enjoy it. Through Max, we learn that an imagination can take you far, and even change your outlook on life.

Growing up is hard to do, and Max takes us to a world where everything seems so much easier and forces us to appreciate what we have. Overall, the film was very successful and earned many positive reviews.

I would recommend  this film, but only after first digging up the story book from when you were little and re-reading it. That way, it will teach you to appreciate your youth, and develop a deeper meaning when you see it in theatres or on DVD.

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