Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are - 4 out of 4 Stars

Who Would Love This Movie: Older children of any age

Best Mood to Walk In With: Prepared to re-enter childhood

Don't See This Movie If: You have no concept of imagination

I am in love with Where the Wild Things Are. Spike Jonze said, "I didn't look at it as trying to make a children's movie. I just wanted to make a movie about childhood." It is this concept that haunts every scene, every moment, and every frame of this epic movie. Where the Wild Things Are successfully does what The Wizard of Oz also accomplished 70 years ago, it translates a wonderfully vivid book into an even more tangible and fantastic world of imagination and childhood fantasy.

Adults will connect with Where the Wild Things Are because it reminds us what it feels like to be a child. Everything Jonze does is from the viewpoint of a kid named Max, and his remarkable attention to detail will make this film a classic. One of the best things I noticed concerning this immersion into Max's point of view is how in the real world every person is seen from a lower angle. When Max is in a scene with his Mom or sister, the camera is looking up at them. But once Max enters the land of the wild things, even though they are monstrously tall compared to him, the camera shows them at the same level. Max is never looking up to them, because they do what the real world so often neglects, validating the worth of a child's viewpoint as equal to their own. Upon Max's reentry to normal life, Jonze does not condescend to imagine that the world has drastically changed to recognize Max as an equal. Instead he keeps the angles as they were, but shows the way the adults stoop or sit to join Max on his level. Once Max and his Mother are reunited, you never again see her as taller than her son. It's a lyrical symbolism that credits Jonze's directorial talents.

Although this film is fantastical, the emotions are raw, powerful, and very real. Because of this and the beautiful way they are portrayed, I believe this is what Spike Jonze will be remembered for. Max Records who was last seen in The Brothers Bloom astounded me by acting so naturally and charmingly as Max. He is a youngster to keep your eye on, and I hope more evolves from his career than the unfortunately short-lived one of Haley Joel Osment. However, it is James Gandolfini who I believe will be recognized by the Academy for his startlingly touching and nuanced translation of Carol, the focal point of the wild things. For an actor who has long played thugs and villains, Gandolfini does a remarkable job of showing vulnerability, false bravedo, and longing simply through his voice. Of course I don't want to forget the CGI animators and puppeteers that tackled the mammoth task of giving body and facial expressions to the voices. And don't miss Catherine Keener, Catherine O'Hara, and Forest Whitaker who also move the audience with their passionate performances.

Please Don't Miss: The opening scene where the Warner Brothers logo and a fun romp with a dog fully characterize Max within 30 seconds
Keep Your Ears Open For: The incredible soundtrack that harmonizes so perfectly to the action, you almost forget it is there
You're Sure To Laugh When: The comment about eating off feet appears

I've read that Where the Wild Things Are is being considered an indie arthouse flick. However, I would disagree and say that this film is exactly what every movie should aspire to be. It is both entertaining as a movie, but executed with the beauty and thoughtfulness to make it art. And it reminds us of the important lesson that whether you're mournful or triumphant, the emotion can always be captured with a good, loud HHHHOOOOOOWWWWWLLLLLL! :)

Movie Are Life. ~ K

No comments:

Post a Comment