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Friday, March 05, 2010
Where the Wild Things Are
Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are is a beautiful movie.
I must state right up front though: NOT FOR KIDS. Not at all for kids. Probably not for anyone under 18.
On the one hand, you can say "giant monsters?" but art is art. We should never mistake style for audience. You can do cartoons, puppetry, masks, all sorts of theatrics, all just for adults.
It is unfortunate that Jonze picked a children's story as the basis for a story intended for adults, but they should have made that clear in the marketing.
The story is a meditation on what it is to be human, the joy and the pain. It's about the gift and the tragedy of the terrible power of our minds to imagine impossibilities, and to achieve great things. It's about the extraordinary imagined self, versus the entirely ordinary reality of ourselves. It explores our casual cruelty and our profound regret, our anger and our freedom.
It shows, as clearly as you can without having a single person alone as in Cast Away, our solitude, our otherness, our isolation, even amongst others.
The young actor who carries the movie, Max Records, the only human we see for the vast majority of the screen time, is extraordinary in what must have been a very difficult role (the world created looks great on screen, but it must have taken great imagination to live it in the moment). He conveys a wide range of emotions very convincingly and naturally.
I identified strongly with this movie because I spent a lot of time as a kid alone, moving in the real world yet simultaneously moving through my imagined world.