Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Where the Wild Things Are”

(Warner Brothers. 1 hour, 34 minutes. Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language. Directed by Spike Jonze.) Max Records (Max), Catherine Keener (Mom), James Gandolfini (Carol), Lauren Ambrose (KW), Paul Dano (Alexander), Catherine O’Hara (Judith), Forest Whitaker (Ira), Chris Cooper (Douglas). Music by Carter Burwell and Karen Orzolek.

Max (Records), a young boy with a single mom (Keener) and an older sister who has “outgrown” him, gets into an argument with his mother and runs away from home. He comes across a small boat, braves an angry sea, sails to an island populated by fantastic creatures and becomes their king. Spike Jonze succeeds in bringing a beloved children’s book to life.

Given the brevity of Maurice Sendak’s original work, Wild Things takes a few liberties with the text. The plot is very simple, and gets stretched a little thin in places. However, the movie never feels less than genuine, telling a lot of the story without dialogue and giving the film a surprisingly contemplative feel. Jonze and co-conspirator David Eggers draw some very subtle parallels between Max’s island life and his home life, which only heightens the emotional impact. Records seems very much like a real 8-year-old, prone to the tantrums and flights of fancy of that age. Keener is wonderful as his doting but overworked mother, and the voicework of a very talented cast really breathes life into the creatures on Max’s island. The Things themselves, a mix of costumed actors and CGI faces, are an amazing achievement in special effects and have a much more concrete presence than purely CG characters would (funny, since they’re imaginary creatures). The soundtrack, by Coen Brothers regular Burwell and Karen O. (of the indie rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), is odd but engaging, and compliments the lush cinematography well. A sparse yet beautiful testament to the joys and hardships of childhood.

Jared Counts

Jared Counts

Digital Technology Manager

A UH alum, Jared Counts was hired part-time at KUHF Radio in early 2003, bouncing between departments until being hired full-time as a web developer in Febraury 2007. He currently manages the front- and back-end of this website (including the WordPress plugin that runs this staff directory), as well as...

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