Experience Where The Wild Things Are

This film is not for children. Children throw tantrums and cry when they are hungry. Children know that love and rage are one and the same. Children fall down, and scream, and pretend to be kings.

This movie is for those of us who have left home, and tried to grow up. We forget to buy bandaids. When we trip and fall, we remember to act cool. We don’t stomp our feet, or gnash our teeth, or show our claws. We smile and drink coffee, and learn how to settle. This movie is for us.

From the moment the film opens, Max (in his wild white fox suit that makes me green with jealousy) races shrieking and tumbling into the theatre, a crazed glint in his eye as he chases his dog through the house. The hunt is exhilarating, my joints are tingling, and when the camera sweeps over Max’s face mid-attack you are locked into to Max’s world. It’s a thrilling, familiar place to which you thought you would never return.

We are all nostalgic in one way or another about our childhoods. We remember nice things, like Mom’s garlic bread, or our GI Joes. We remember painful things like the first time you got caught in a lie, or the day you broke your wrist on the monkey bars. But somehow, “Where The Wild Things Are” takes you back inside the forgotten slices of your childhood. Instead of a vague nostalgia for a lost time and place, I was transported to the sound of my siblings brushing their teeth. I was tossed around in the tropical storm of a child’s emotions; one minute the peaks of ecstasy, followed by doom, desolation, and despair, repaired in an hour and a year to the certainty and security of a warm meal.

Everything about the land where the Wild Things are is decaying, shifting, and unreliable. It is lonely. The monsters are rather helpless, which makes them even more frightening. The place aches a lot like life outside the “womb” and everyone, child and adult alike, knows Max is on the right page when he gets back in his boat, and sails home.

This movie feels like an amusement park ride. There are dark corners and free falls. There are shrieks of terror, tears, laughs, and moments of isolation, darkness, and recognition. It is all very fun and quite exhausting. In the millisecond that Max and the Wild Things are standing atop a hill, you break a sweat, your body tenses, and your adult intellect screams “No!” before Max throws himself onto the ground as only children do, and rolls down the hill screaming with glee. You’re suddenly aware of how much your body has slowed down and of how little you choose to move these days. I found myself anxious for Max to sit down, so I could catch my breath. When I left the theatre I was tired, drained, swollen, and entirely satisfied.

Most of us can’t return home. If we could, our parents might indulge us for a day, or a week. We might return to our favorite sledding hill only to realize it’s not the same hill at all. But, if there ever were a way to recall not a place, but a sensation, this film has slipped inside. The success of Spike Jones vision is in the pace of the camera work, a remarkable child actor named Max Records, and the music. Karen O’s incredible soundtrack is full of noise and static and giggles and taunts. It gets inside you right away, which makes the music quite physical (and almost painful out of context). This is not to say that the soundtrack is not a immense accomplishment on it’s own, and I dowloaded the entire thing as soon as I got home.

For the full experience this is definitely a film to see in theatres, so if you have not yet gone I suggest making it a priority this weekend. It’s $10.00 for, quite literally, the ride of your life.

“And an ocean tumbled by”

and the ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around,

through night and day and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year.

he was lonely, and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.

please don’t go, we’ll eat you up, we love you so.

so he gave up being king of where the wild things are

The wild things roared their terrible roars…

~Maurice Sendak.


~ by Vy on November 7, 2009.

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