Let the wild rumpus start!
Note: The person I went to see this with suggested that I write the review in ten sentences in honor of the book. I am taking her challenge one step further and not only writing it in ten sentences but also writing it in 338 words, the word count of the book.
Turning a ten sentence book into a ninety-minute movie is no small feat, yet Where the Wild Things Are manages to effectively make the transition. The result is a film that not only builds upon the plot of the book, but delivers a powerful message of life, growing up, and learning to accept both the good and the bad along the way.
The basic premise of the movie follows that of the book: young Max gets frustrated with his mother, escapes to a surreal world of monsters, and quickly becomes their king. Most of the book’s plot is quickly glossed over in the first half an hour as Max befriends the scary monsters and engages in a brief wild rumpus party just like in the book. The film then proceeds to dive into more original, serious subject matter as Max and the monsters come to blows over Max’s leadership as it revolves around the construction of the ultimate house, and the wild things (and Max’s) conflicting ideals over who should take part in their happy little clubhouse.
While the early parts of the film were nothing to sneeze at (although there is one rather disturbing scene with the world’s most traumatizing elementary school teacher preaching the apocalypse to a bunch of kids) the true beauty comes when the original story takes over. Max’s attempt to create a perfect world and the subsequent consequences that result illustrate the complex duality of human life. Although we cannot create a perfect world where loneliness can be forever crushed and a sadness shield keeps out everything bad, we can learn to accept our troubles for what they are and grow to accept both the good and bad that will always be present in life. Truthfully, I consider it fortunate that Disney never got their hands on this book, for their desire to see a storybook ending would not due the book justice.
In short, Where the Wild Things Are provides a fantastic storytelling adventure that both kids and adults alike will appreciate.