The 10-sentence children’s book “Where The Wild Things Are” is now a 101-minute motion picture of childlike wonder and a heartwarming message that may leave the adults in the audience bored.
Maurice Sendak’s 1963 best seller is brought to life and the big screen by director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” 1999) and screenwriter Dave Eggers ( “Away We Go,” 2009).
The movie tells the story of a highly creative boy named Max, (played by actor Max Records) whose imagination leads him to often misbehave.
One night when his actions get out of control he has a fight with his mother, Catherine Keener (“The Soloist,” 2009). As his wild thoughts get carried away with him, he then has a dream in which he sails to an island of wild things.
It is here where he meets six monsters, Carol, (James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), Alexander (Paul Dano, “There Will Be Blood” 2007), Judith (Catherine O’Hara, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Ira, (Forest Whitaker, “American Dad!”), Douglas (Chris Cooper, “New York, I love You,” 2009), and KW, (Lauren Ambrose, “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits,” 2009) .
The monsters at first want to eat him, but then decide not to after Max lies to them, saying he has magical powers. The monsters then make Max their king and ruler of the island.
As the film progresses, the monsters and Max create a bond, experiencing struggles all children face and the movie wraps up with a good moral message.
The first few scenes of the film give off an indie vibe, with its spare dialogue and gentle piano music, but as the film progresses it eases into more of a major motion picture, with a more and more characters interacting with one another.
The acting contributes a great deal to the quality of the movie. All the actors have compelling chemistry with one another that makes their affection for each other believable.
It is easy to feel remorse for the main character, Max, as he struggles through loneliness, sadness and anger, feelings that almost anyone can relate to.
The monsters, although they appear to look scary, have a gentle sincerity to them that children can admire. The whole cast gives a very heartwarming performance that really helps make this a lighthearted film.
Stretching a 10-sentence children’s book into a full-length movie means that the production team had a lot of film to shoot, and they do a good job filling in that gap, with the characters running around the island, bonding with one another, and so on.
However, there are endless shots of scenery and with musical background that become repetitive and predictable.
The plot and the writing of the film has some dark moments, but it’s mostly geared toward kids. Hissy fits and conflicts that evolve are so childlike that most adults would probably get bored and restless halfway through.
The cinematography is pretty standard, but then again there aren’t a lot of, if any, fast and active scenes that called for a lot of quick shots.
Fans of the book will be pleased with the similarities the characters of the movie and the book share.
Jonze does a good job supplying viewers with a realistic depiction of the original characters, but the plot lacks the gusto to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.