Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild At Heart

Last night I was where the wild things were. The theatre was half full of publishers and half full of various children’s organizations, complete with kids. Warner Bros passed out cardboard crowns. I was really tempted to beg and plead for one for myself (and/or jump into the frames of photos making a growly monster face), but I refrained. It, perhaps, would not have been professional of me with my boss sitting a few rows away.

Although some people from the illustrious HarperCollins publishers were invited to the official screening on Tuesday, I (a lowly assistant) was not. So this write-up includes no fun insider info about Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers, Tom Hanks, or James Gandolfini. Sorry to disappoint.

The film, however, did not disappoint…much. It’s as beautiful as you would guess based on the trailer, and even more painful. It is, above all, not a children’s movie. While I don’t doubt that many children could easily relate to Max’s anger and aggression throughout the film, I DO doubt that they will understand it or make the connection. Not that I think kids are dumb, but only small hints are given about the source of Max’s frustrations. And NO hints are given about the source(s) of the Wild Things’ frustrations. They’re just unhappy with no real explanation. (Except maybe Max’s line: “I wish you had a mother.”) Are they monstrous lost boys? Kind of.

The actor, Max Records, is absolutely precious…to look at. He’s so cute I just want to gush at him like he’s a puppy. But I struggled a lot with wanting to love his character and the fact that I hated the character. Maybe it’s meant to be a statement about what loneliness and frustration can do to a kid, but when he morphed into a wild thing, I just wanted to reach into the screen and shake him (and we all know you should never shake a baby… or, in this case, an 8 year old).

To sum up, I liked the movie, but didn’t love it. At moments my heart grew three sizes (a la Grinch), at others, it was breaking, and more often than I would have liked I wanted to slap Max like child abuse was a new fad. I loved what humor the movie offered, but I wished there had been more. Maybe I just want childhood to be happy and funny, even though sometimes it’s not.

-Kristina Radke


Anonymous said...

thats funny because i loved the movie and how wild max is. childhood isn't that simple and easy and this showed that.

Anonymous said...

Childhood is super complicated and sometimes dark. The Witches is an awesome kids movie that takes it to the next level without being too Camus