Jake’s Movie Review: Where the Wild Things Are

Where the wild things are
Though grittier than the book version, Where the Wild Things Are deserves a second chance. (Photo by Robert Williams used under Creative Commons license)

By Jake “The Movie Guy” O’Bannon

Let’s see if you all are anything like me. First, do you ever have times where you watch a movie and think to yourself, “Wow, I really hated that,” but then you walk away thinking, “Wait, I think I missed something. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought?” Second: Do you ever go into a movie that is based off a book and expect to get the same feeling as you did from reading the book and then inevitably find yourself disappointed because it wasn’t the same?

I know I have experienced both of those situations. In fact, I experienced them at the same time when I first saw the 2009 movie Where the Wild Things Are. My advice: give it a second chance.

I will never forget the days when I would go to my grandma and grandpa’s house and read Where the Wild Things Are over and over. It was my favorite book for years. I could never get enough. I desperately wanted my room to change into a forest like it did for Max, and I wanted to go on a wild rumpus with all the monsters. There was a feeling as if I were in a whole different place when I read the book.

It is important to say this up front – the movie does not give off the same feelings as the book. Though they both bring out emotion in the audience, the movie is a much grittier version of the book. Max is the main character of the movie. He has a lot of things going on in his life – things that do not make life easy on him. Max no longer has a father figure, his mother is dating again, his sister is starting to spend more time with her friends than with him and he is starting to realize that he has to grow up. Are you starting to see why this movie is a bit more adult-centered than the book?

Max reaches a point where he can’t take it. After a fit of rage, he dashes out the front door, running away from home. He finds a sailboat and sails away to a far off place. This place happens to be the home of the “wild things.” As he gets acquainted with them, the audience begins to see that each of these “things” represents a difference part of Max’s life. There is one monster in particular, Carol, which Max becomes extremely close to. As the movie progresses, we see more and more that Carol and Max are not too different from one another.

There is a point in the movie where Carol looks at Max and says, “There’s gotta be a place where only the things you want to happen, happen.” Max looks at him and says that it is possible, and they proceed to build this utopia of sorts. But it doesn’t take long for Max and the others to realize that this place does not exist.

The truth is, there is not a place like this in any of our earthly lives. There is never a place where everything we want to happen, happens. That is an impossible dream. But shouldn’t that make us love what we do have all the more? The fact is, we may not always have perfection, but we do have right now, and that’s a blessing.

I make my girlfriend watch way too many movies with me. She’s a trooper for that, but she also has a way to pick out key issues in films. In this one it was the resolution between Max and his mother. There is a scene where Max is being attacked and one of the monsters, K.W., protects him from harm. This situation reminds Max of his mother who desperately loves him. Max ran away from home because he felt like he needed something more. But in reality, what Max needed most was the one who loved him– his mom.

We have this tendency to want perfection in our lives. We want everything we want to happen, happen. I even wanted it the first time I saw this movie. But we must remember that what we have is given to us for a reason. And we must remember that what we have is unique to us– we are the only ones that have the life we have.

So, cherish it all. Like Max, realize that what you have is even better than what you think you need. It is then that we are truly able to let the wild rumpus begin.

What do you think?