I had planned on seeing Where The Wild Things Are (which we will now refer to WTWTA for the sake of time and my wrists) when it came out. I watched the trailer months before. I screamed at Greg from our room to "come and see what I found! Hang on to your balls mofo!" And I cried. Yes, I cried, or got "a little misty" as I like to call it. Because the music, the book, the beautiful cinematography, the monsters, the childhood memories and feelings came flooding in.
Well, life happens and we skipped seeing it in theaters but bought it as soon as it came out on DVD and about a week or so ago we finally watched it (we're late bloomers around here) and...
I loved it. I'm quite aware of many people's less than enthusiastic feelings about the movie. Some have said it was too dark (even Greg shared the same sentiments), some felt it didn't live up to the book, some felt James Gandolfini was a bad choice. But I felt a lot for this movie and here are my reasons-
1. I felt the movie lived up to the book perfectly fine (Sendak was one of the producers after all). The book wasn't all sunshine and smiles either, despite the fanciful illustrations. It dealt with a young boys anger. The monsters, as I see them, are manifestations of his feelings. Carol with his volatile appetite for destruction when upset, Judith with her pessimism, Alexander with his self-consciousness and The Bull (also known as Bernard from the book), a dark figure mysteriously looming around. The island was Max's refuge, a place where he could yell and smash and rumpus with all the ugly feelings (monsters) without being questioned, judged or scolded. It is an outlet, albeit one that you shouldn't indulge in too much or be consumed by them (something alluded to in the movie by the monsters when they told Max they had eaten all the previous kings). It showed Max coming to terms with his feelings as children his age everywhere, in real life are doing. It is through the monsters, the island that he begins to learn coping mechanisms and once he found them, he returned home.
Hmmm, kind of sounds like somebody I know. Or maybe everybody I know. Who hasn't wanted to release bad feelings be it by turning the music up louder, making the drink a little stiffer, shutting the door, leaving the room, punching a pillow, or sometimes through ways that aren't even very healthy. Emotions can run out of control sometimes, unable to be contained or contained too much until they implode. Just because Max is a child doesn't make his emotions less valid, only more confusing in his age and to watch him deal with that was beautiful and heartbreaking to me. We all want validation in our feelings, Max found his in an island surrounded by like minded creatures.
2. The characters really held up a mirror. I knew what Carol felt when he destroyed his handcrafted village. I knew the sharp tongue that Judith spoke with in all of her pessimism. I knew the desperate need to escape your world the way K.W. and Max felt it. The characters where not the mere pictures from the book. They were multi-dimensional and thus endearing. I'd like to know one person who hasn't had the feelings brought to life by these characters. Or rather, I don't want to know them. They're likely to not exist anyway.
I could go on and on about this movie but I'll cut this off here. The point is it was a movie about a child, not a children's movie. And while we read the book to our children, I can't help but feel that maybe Sendak had meant it to span all ages. To remind parents that children have raw emotions just the same as us adults and to not disregard them for the fact that they "are too young to feel that way". Keep in mind that you yourself, harbor your own wild things.