Where the Wild Things Aren’t

22Oct09

Wow, that was one trippy movie. No really, if I were actually into like hardcore drugs, I would see the heck out of that movie while high. Where The Wild Things are was co-written by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovitch, Adaptation) and Dave Eggers (Away We Go and his memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), so we knew that right off the bat that this wasn’t going to be a normal children’s movie. However, after seeing Wild Things, I am under the impression that neither of these men had that audience in mind when they made this thing.

One cool thing about the movie is that the wild things themselves, despite the fact that they are quite large and quite dangerous, are very childlike deep down. So they are to be juxtaposed next to our hero, Max, who declares himself their king. Now it’s okay, to go with the theme of large, scary monsters being kids inside, but they are children in all of the scariest ways.

What I mean by “scariest ways” is that each of the wild things, like children are prone to random outbursts of emotion, usually in the form of a temper tantrum. Unlike children though, each of the wild things are ten feet tall, carnivorous, super strong, and can jump twenty feet high from a standing position. It takes Max like a good week to realize how royally fucked he is.

Here should have been Max’s first indicator that the wild things are psychotic. He shows up where they live in the middle of the night, where Carol (an excellent performance by James Gandolfini) is yelling about a missing wild thing while knocking down all of the wild things’ houses and complaining that no one will come help him. Here’s what Max should have done: run the fuck away before this crazy thing kills him. Here’s what he did: picked up a stick and tried to knock down a house.

Remember how I said that the wild things are child-like, right? However unlike children they have no imagination. So when Max starts getting ideas and being free like a kid making up things, no one plays along, they take him at his word. Evidenced by a scene where the missing wild thing (KW) brings back a pair of owls and Carol gets extremely jealous. So he asks Max about an earlier imagining about a security system for their new home that removing the brains of things they don’t want. Carol isn’t kidding, he wants some mystical force to lobotimize those owls.

And here’s the best indicator to Carol’s bat shit insanity, when in a fit of rage he rips the arm of his best friend, Douglas, when he realizes that Max isn’t a king. I’m not talking about tearing a ligament. He literally tear the whole thing off, which then turns to dust. To add insult to injury, he inserts a stick in the empty pit, which stays there for the rest of the film. As Max decides to go home, one wild thing makes the observation, “Wow, you’re the first king we didn’t eat.” What?!? Even as the movie is going through it’s big emotional wind-down it manages to terrify. You know what only see “Where the Wild Things Are” if you wish to ruin some kid’s childhood.

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