Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

(On Cable TV, September 2017) There are movies for kids and then there are movies about kids, and Where the Wild Things Are is definitely in the second category, given that I suspect that most adults would loathe to admit that kids’ lives can be as glum and depressing as the one depicted here. Following the adventures of a young boy with plenty of problems and an active imagination, the film begins and ends in the real world, but largely takes place in a fantasy in which various creatures interact with the protagonist. Cast from the independent-movie mould, Where the Wild Things Are isn’t a joyride—it focuses on loneliness, sadness and even betrayal. As a result, it feels like a depressing slog—despite the remarkable creature effects used in depicting how our boy protagonist interacts with fantastic creatures, it’s purposefully designed to instill wistfulness and contemplation. The visual quality of the film is likely to be hit and miss—while the creatures are impressively depicted, they feel similar in a shaggy dirty kind of way. Coupled with the one-note emotional register of the script, it makes Where the Wild Things Are feel more like an imposed hardship than a film that you’d willingly watch. Others will surely disagree—at the very least, writer/director Spike Jonze should be commended for coming up with an unusual vision from legendarily cantankerous author Maurice Sendak and sticking to it. 

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