Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno
|Featuring:||Forest Whitaker, Catherine Keener, Catherine O'Hara, Mark Ruffalo, Max Records, Pepita Emmerichs, Max Pfeifer, Madeleine Greaves, Joshua Jay, Ryan Corr, Steve Mouzakis, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Michael Berry Jr., Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose|
|Producer:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Playtone, Wild Things Productions, Bruce Berman, John B. Carls, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jon Jashni, Vincent Landay, Scott Mednick, Maurice Sendak, Thomas Tull|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“There’s one in all of us.”
“Where the Wild Things Are” is based on a beloved picture book by Maurice Sendak. This screen adaptation is directed by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers. Max (played by Max Records) is a 9 year old boy who definitely feels neglected. Max builds a snow fort and wants his older sister to play with him, but she is too busy on the phone or with her friends. He gets into a snowball fight with his sister and her friends, but his fort is crushed by them. They don’t even realize how they have hurt Max, as he stands there crying, and his sister just leaves.
His parent’s are divorced, and his mom (Catherine Keener) works late. She comes home, and tries to spend a little time with Max, but she, too, is busy with projects and a boyfriend. Outside of school, Max has no one. He leads a lonely existence. One night, unable to contain himself any longer, Max fights with his mom and runs away. He sails off to an island and meets the Wild Things. Max becomes their king and finds the Wild Things are just like the people back home.
OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT: First, I need to say that this movie is dark and disturbing in many parts. The music, mood and lighting all contribute to the dark feel of this movie.
VIOLENCE: There is plenty of violence. Max chases the dog. He has a snowball fight and destroys his sister’s room. He bites his mom. There is a scary storm while Max is sailing, and the boat capsizes. When Max first sees the Wild Things, it is at night, and there is a fire; one of the Wild Things is destroying and breaking things. This scene is dark and violent. The monsters threaten to eat Max. There are dirt ball fights, hitting with sticks, and one Wild Thing gets his wing ripped off. He is later seen with a stick for a wing. A raccoon is thrown like a ball during a game.
LANGUAGE: One d-mn and h-ll. One character says “G-d, you’re selfish,” and a couple of other instances where God’s name is taken in vain. Max and Carol both say, “I’ll eat you up.” Max tells his mom, “I hate you.”
OTHER OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT: Max’s mom kisses her boyfriend, and they drink wine. His teacher is talking about the solar system and the sun dying out and the solar system being destroyed in a number of ways—war, global warming, etc. Max lies to the monsters about being a king. Max later tells Carol (James Gandolfini), “The sun is going to die.” KW tells Max to “crawl inside my mouth” to hide. Inside KW there is a live raccoon. When Max needs to come out, KW pulls him out, and he is covered with slime.
POSITIVE CONTENT: Max shows remorse when he destroys his sister’s room and helps his mom to clean it up. Max and the Wild Things care for one another and work together to build a fort.
The Wild Things all represent Max and people in his life. The feelings of a lonely little boy are captured in the film, and I believe that helps children to feel less alone if they know that those feelings are common among everyone. KW has 2 friends, Bob and Terry. When she brings them around, everyone welcomes them. Carol feels isolated and doesn’t understand “the new kids.” Life is very much like that. In group situations, it is easy to feel left out, and kids and adults often do not do a very good job making everyone feel welcome.
If you watch the film, watch for how Max is working out his feelings of isolation, being left out, not feeling loved, and aggression. You can definitely use these as talking points with your children. These are also important things to remember as adults—when was the last time you felt like you didn’t belong or nobody listened to you?
The Wild Things definitely showed both good and bad emotions. Romans 12:15-18 says,
“Be happy with people who are happy. Cry with people who cry. Agree with one another. Do not be proud, but be friends with anybody. Do not think you are wiser than you are. When people do wrong things to you, do not do wrong things to them also. But try to do good things for all people. As much as you can, live in peace with everyone.”
God calls us to be a light to people in a dark, lonely world. Children are never too young to learn to look outside of themselves. By teaching your children to rejoice and cry with others, you teach them empathy. Compassion for others takes the focus off of self.
I took my family to see this movie (ages 19-5), and, although I love the book, I did not love the movie. There are aspects of the movie that I like, but I definitely cannot recommend this movie for kids under 7-8. I don’t think young girls will get this movie at all, and there are too many disturbing images for younger children. Also, there are too many slow moving dialogue scenes to hold the interest of small children.
My 19 year old son liked the movie and “got it;” my 16 year old daughter didn’t. I asked some young adults (both male and female) about the movie, and they loved it. My overall recommendation is that this movie will appeal to older children and young adults.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor