When I see Spike Jonze is involved in anything creative, I always get really excited to see whatever product his name is involved in. In this case it happened to be one of my favorite books as a child. Not only because I share a name with the main character, but also because we shared common anger management issues growing up without a father.
Jonze opens up the movie with a beautiful depiction of how a mother and son can interact, as we watch Max (Max Records) play with his mother’s toes until he innocently spits out an incredibly imaginative short story. Max’s stability is shattered when he sees his mom flirting and drinking with another man before dinner;Â his anger and depression turns into an intriguing parallel world filled with big monsters and never-ending forests. Jonze does an excellent job in creating dialog and a story that doesn’t really exist in the original novel. Two monsters in particular, Carol and KW, have problems of their own stemming from Max’s abandonment issues.
Jonze continues to explore Max’s issues as a perfect world filled with mud fights and sleeping together in a huge pile turns to jealousy between friends and betrayal. The art direction and set design (real forests coupled with CGI) make this movie unforgettable. Jonze’s shaky camera work lends to the viewers immersion into writer Maurice Sendak’s unforgettable artwork. Max quickly becomes the King of his own fantasy world, but soon realizes how much harder being happy all the time really is. Each monster in the wild world has their own specialty they lend to building a new world or town where everyone can be happy all the time. Max has taken personalities and characteristics from every part of his life and thrown them into this pseudo-Utopian world. King Max quickly realizes that nothing can be flawless and even in his own dreams he can’t control other people’s emotions or decisions.
Unfortunately we never really get any kind of resolution when it comes to Max and his exaggerated temper tantrums. Where the Wild Things Are comes to an unsatisfying conclusion at only 94 minutes of run time, and leaves us thinking about what Max will do to cope with his father’s absence. Will he continue to run away and get lost in his own fantasy world, or will he stick around and deal with them now that he’s had such an eye-opening experience?