Thursday, July 1, 2010

Review: Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are is a children's fantasy based on the very illustrated 1963 book of the same name by Maurice Sendak. It is set in the comtemporary world, following the adventures of a young and angry boy named Max (the actor is also called Max, Max Records) who disappears into the world of the Wild Things after running away from a fight he had with his struggling single mom, played by Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich). The Wild Things are enormous bear-like talking creatures with huge heads and an appetite for kids like Max. The boy smartly pretends to be a king from a distant land to avoid becoming Wild Food, and organises some activities to keep the pack together. The wildest of the bunch, Carol (James Gandolfini) was at first ecstatic about having a new little ruler, but soon starts to grow frustratingly suspicious about Max's dubious royal roots.

This movie comes highly recommended from certain critics, and was even worthy enough to enter a few 2009 top tens. It is also one of the more disappointing fares of the year for me, especially after believing all the endorsements from noted online critics. Although very competently made under the direction of Spike Jonze, who churned out the one-of-a-kind Being John Malkovich, the movie's main problem for me is that it's a bore. There is a character arc for Max, but its lacking genuine drama and feels like its going through the motions of a typical morality kid's tale. The oft-kilter vibe of the Wild Things doesn't help either. There were attempts to make the creatures lovable, but they still felt inappropriately creepy and unnerving. Even Carol spoke in an Italian-American accent (by no other than goodfella Mr. Tony Soprano himself), which took me out of the movie every time he spoke. I don't know why, but using a British accent in fantasies, science fiction, and historical epics is always effective in helping the audience to suspend their sense of disbelief, even add some credibility to preposterous scenes or expositions.

This movie reminded me of another critically acclaimed kid's movie that also turned into a Big Movie Snooze-fest: The Dark Crystal.

If you enjoyed the movie, then good for you, and do write to me about it, because I genuinely want to like the movie and perhaps the answer will come to light in your comments about it. I didn't enjoy it, found it boring, and at this point in time can't possibly, wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone else.

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