Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things "Aren't"

CNN HEADLINE: Parents upset, bored by Where the Wild Things Are

I knew this would happen that some people wouldn't get Spike Jonze's adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are." It was clear from the moment the movie started being made some undoubtedly wouldn't "get it" or say the movie isn't "kid oriented." Part of the magic behind Jonze's adaptation is the movie explores many haunting fears a child growing up in an imperfect world faces. This isn't your Disney "Where the Wild Things Are." This isn't your bubble gum "Where the Wild Things Are" either. It is however a rather poginant and honest take on a classic. The fun Max has in the book is just the same in the movie which makes quotes like this so confusing.

"I think the book is almost designed for the 1-to-4 age group," said Griffioen, 31. "The text is so simple, and it fits in with the other books that are appropriate for that age level, which is why the movie is so strange because it seemed much more dedicated to the 8-to-12 age group."

The book, as Maurice Sendak has made clear, is not really intended for a 1-4 age group in fact it isn't intended for just one age group that's what made it so endearing. As you grow the book's simplicity lends itself to have an evolved meaning. Clearly Jonze understood that and why he received a blessing from Sendak. All the whining and parents complaints towards the movie fall into two categories from what I can tell.

a) They move through the world with rose colored glasses
b) They are the parents and the family the movie addresses and it hits too close to home

Jason Avant, founder and editor of parent-focused review site Dadcentric.com:

"Family movies and kid movies have become so safe and homogenized and shallow in a sense," Avant said. "['Wild Things' is] such a real depiction of how a kid acts -- the mood swings, the temper tantrums. My son is like that: he's happy as a clam one minute and he's throwing a tantrum the next; everything is so urgent and immediate. It was interesting to watch him watch it, and I think it struck a chord with him in a way that kept him interested."

Max in Jonze's interpretation wants to somehow escape the world he inhabits and by finding the "Wild Things" he discovers the reality is inescapable. It is quite a dynamic story, moving and unique. The criticisms from parents and those of similar ilk miss that completely because they seem to be too busy hoping the book and their life is about something else.

"Inside all of us is a Wild Thing"
— Maurice Sendak

I am Frank Chow and I approved this message

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