At the risk of outing myself as one not belonging to the group of intellectually elite who enjoy going to depressing art house movies that no one really “gets,” I’m going to tell you what I thought about the Where the Wild Things Are movie.
In a word? Mind-numbing. Wait, is that two words? Oh well. I told you I wasn’t a member of the intellectually elite.
Let me start by saying that Where the Wild Things are is one of our favorite books and we were thrilled to hear it was being made into a movie. So, we lined up for the earliest Saturday show with kids in tow very excited to see it come to life on the screen.
But, oh. my. gosh. It was awful. No kidding. Awful.
I’m trying to think how to tell you what I hated (yes, I said hated) about the movie. Was it the very adult themes of loneliness, melancholy, and discontent? The beyond depressing home life of Max? Or the ridiculously inappropriate (for children) and unnecessary relationship problems the Wild Things were experiencing? Perhaps it was that within the entire movie there was not one shred of real hope or happiness. Not even a glimmer. Not even in the end.
I think critic Edward Douglas said it best when he said, “Jonze has produced a gorgeous $80 million Muppet Movie in the shape of an art film that will bore kids as much as it will depress adults.” And that is precisely it. I said it right after the movie and I’ll say it again, it reminded me of Samual Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” if it had been performed on Sesame Street. It was strange and dark and absurd and if they hadn’t been wearing monster costumes there would be nothing at all in the this movie to even make you think it was for kids. I agree with Rafer Guzman from Newsday who said, “The film is essentially a parade of negative emotions — sorrow, anger, jealousy, regret.” It was depressing from start to finish.
Don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate a good dose of melancholy as much as the next tortured poet, but at least make it interesting. And don’t sucker me into dragging my kids into it.
I will say two things about this movie. It is shot as beautifully as it looks in the trailer. That much is wonderful. And the cinematography is very true to the book’s illustrations. The soundtrack is also really, really good. We listened to it for a couple weeks before the movie came out and really loved it. So, maybe the trick to enjoying this movie is to watch it on mute with the soundtrack playing? That might actually work.
As for the content of the film? I’m trying desperately to wipe the movie from my memory so it doesn’t totally taint my love for the book because that would be the biggest tragedy of this film.
So, if you’re curious, check it out. Let me know what you think. But, I’d think twice before I took young kids to see it since the defining moment of our experience was when Kai looked at me and said, “Mom, I thought this was a kid’s movie? You didn’t tell me it would be such a sad movie.”
And it was sad, indeed.