- New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 2016: Where The Wild Things Are
Where The Wild Things Are 4 stars
Lonely and misunderstood boy Max doesn't feel like his mother or her new boyfriend get him. So he ventures to an island where he meets a race of gargantuan, furry creatures called the Wild Things, whose actions and emotions are completely unpredictable. These beasts yearn for someone to rule their kingdom, just as Max yearns for somewhere that he can call home. So the boy is elected king of the realm and sets about creating a world where everyone is happy.
- GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Children's, Family, Fantasy
- CastMax Records, Catherine Keener, Forest Whitaker, Paul Dano, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara, Lauren Ambrose.
- DirectorSpike Jonze.
- WriterDave Eggers, Spike Jonze.
- Duration101 mins
- Official sitewww.wherethewildthingsaremovie.co.uk
Based on Maurice Sendak's beloved children's story, Where The Wild Things Are is not a sentimental coming-of-age story viewed through rose-tinted spectacles. Spike Jonze's visually-stunning adaptation unfolds through the eyes of an awkward nine-year-old boy, whose formative years are riddled with loneliness, despair and miscommunication. There is no pretence of happiness by the time we reach the conclusion of this magical odyssey.
Life is a struggle and, in the absence of a father figure, the boy will invariably go off the rails many more times. Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers take Sendak's original story - a mere 10 sentences and 338 words - and expand it into a 101-minute fantasy that attests to the brutality of childhood and the power of the imagination to temporarily keep harsh reality at bay.
Pint-sized hero Max (Max Records) doesn't feel like his mother (Catherine Keener) or teenage sister Claire (Pepita Emmerichs) appreciate him. Frustrations come to a boil when the single parent brings home her new boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo). Max stands on the kitchen table in his favourite white wolf costume and glares at his mother.
When she demands he come down, Max makes a scene and growls: "I hate you, I'll eat you up!" In the ensuing struggle, Max bites his mother and runs out the front door into the night. By chance, he finds a sailboat, which transports the lad to the island home of a race of hulking, furry creatures called the Wild Things, whose actions and emotions are completely unpredictable.
Horned-nose Judith (voiced by Catherine O'Hara) threatens to eat Max, but he wins over the group's unofficial leader Carol (James Gandolfini) by pretending to be an exiled king. "I have a sadness shield that keeps out all of the sadness and it's big enough for all of us," the boy fibs. The furry friends anoint him leader, and Max decrees they build a fort. The other creatures, including KW (Lauren Ambrose) and goat-like Alexander (Paul Dano), do the lad's bidding but Max quickly learns that harmony isn't always possible.
Where The Wild Things Are is heartbreaking, anchored by a mesmerising lead performance from Records, whose face captures every flicker of despair and joy during Max's extraordinary adventure. Meanwhile, Keener and Ruffalo barely have enough screen time to register.
The creatures are brilliantly realised using a combination of giant costumes and digital effects, while the vocal performances capture the personalities of these feral beasts, who share many of Max's woes. The Wild Things teach Max the value of friendship and the consequences of bending the truth.
"I'm not a Viking, a king or anything - I'm just Max," the boy confesses sadly.
"Well, that's not very much is it?" replies Carol.
By the end of the film, as we choke back tears, the rotund leader realises how he wrong he was.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Saturday 30th April 2016