Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Raptor Runs with the Wild Things

I admit that that it was more nostalgia more than anything else having read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak's in my kiddy years that I wanted to watch the movie of the same name. I didn’t know what to expect as the book itself was very simple and director and screen play writer Spike Jones would have to do some padding to create, well a complete story. I have to say he did a pretty good job of doing so and bringing to the screen an endearing story about growing up and the relationships involved.

Oh, you scratched the tree! And what!? You broke that other one. Why would you do that?

In a suburban home Max played by a likeable Max Records (what the?) is feeling left out. His sister is more interested with her friends and his single mum is snowed under with work and trying to make nice with her boyfriend. On the other side, Max is a little shit. Yes he is a spoilt brat and yes you probably want to slap him one for his selfish little antics, just like 90% of kids of around that age (8 or 9 maybe). He then throws a hissy fit and runs off into the nearby creak where he finds a boat that takes him to an island. There he meets the various Wild Things like Carol voiced by James Gandolfini, from the Sopranos fame, who takes a liking to him since he is feeling deserted by KW who he has a child like infatuation/friendship with. There’s also the practical Ira, the bitchy Judith, happy go lucky Douglas and the picked and ignored on Alexander. By lying to the child like Wild Things Max is declared their king and will make them all happy. At first things go well but soon Maxes lies begin to unravel as the Wild Things begin to vie for his attention. Jealousies rise and feeling are hurt and Max comes to terms with the fact that he isn’t a king but just a boy who wants to be with his family.

I really liked the feel of this movie. It was filmed with a granny 60/70s dream like quality with some great scenes drenched in dust filtered sunlight which looks fantastic and other framed so beautifully you’d thing they were a canvas come to life. Adding to this is the music score. Put together by Karen Orzolek from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Carter Burwell the music is so sickingly cheery and joyful with Karen and a choir of kids singing you can’t help but like it. The stand out for me was All is Love which had a big part in setting the tone for me in the movie.

I'm assuming that if he's wearing his wolf outfit he's going to be shitting in the woods

The Wild things were masterworks of puppetry and CGI. I was really hard pressed to see where the facial CGI ended and the puppetry began. This is one spot where I could say the FX didn’t take you out of the movie but formed a solid basis for the characters to work from. When a Wild Thing was sad you believed they were sad or happy. This was especially prevalent in the expressive Carol who was one of the moving forces in the story line. Having said that, if you took all the puppetry and CGI away it would still be would a good character based story, although hiding a kid in your mouth wouldn’t quite make sense.

There were points in the film were I was kind of expecting more but couldn’t quite figure what I wanted. If it was more from Max or something deeper in the Wild Things I couldn’t tell you. In the end I walked away satisfied and yes with that little nostalgic smile on my face. I give this one an 8/10.  For all with a childs heart and a wild spirit I say to you Awrooooooooooo!!

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