Where The Wild Things Are, A Review

When we were all children, we had our favorite books that we would bug our parents to read us every night before we went to bed, often over and over again to the point of annoyance.

They were books by such great authors like Shel Silverstien, Dr. Seuss, or Margery Williams. However, one book by Maurice Sendak would capture the imaginations of millions of children for years to come and could say more about the nature of childhood in fewer words than any of the authors previously mentioned.

That book of course is Where the Wild Things Are, a children’s book published in 1963 that told the story of a young boy by the name of Max who does nothing but cause trouble and mischief in the house while dressed in his wolf suit, which does not jive well with his mother who sends him to bed without his supper. While in his room he is transported to a far away land that is inhabited by strange creatures known as the wild things and Max becomes their king.

That is just the basic plot of the story which I’m sure more than a few people are acquainted with so let me just cut to the chase. Fast forward a few decades later and we now have a movie based on this phenomenal children’s classic coming out in the fall and a trailer has been released to theaters. It looks incredible. However, to say that the film has had a smooth and painless road to the silver screen would be an all out lie. In fact to say that the road has been rocky is still an understatement. The movie has been plagued by rumors circulating around on the Internet (some true, some false) that have caused many film buffs to panic and wonder what is really happening to the movie.

The film is directed by music video virtuoso Spike Jonze (who also directed Being John Malkovich and Adaptation) and written by Jonze and modern day literary hero Dave Eggers, which right off the bat gives the impression that the film could end up being something special.

Jonze has a reputation for being an offbeat, quirky director whose films and music video are often described as weird, so most people who know anything about him know that he is the perfect choice to direct this film. Warner Bros. also seemed to agree and gave him the money he needed to go off and shoot the film he and Mr. Eggers wrote. Jonze enlisted the help of the Jim Henson Company to design the creatures, hired professional actors like James Gandolfini and Forest Whitaker to voice the wild things, and even went all the way to New Zealand to shoot the majority of the movie.

It had a release date for some time in the middle of October 2008 and the hype was starting to build around it by that time. Nothing should have gone wrong with this scenario, but somehow it did.

The trouble began with a test screening that Jonze did with a rough cut of the film a year and a half ago. The speculation on the Internet was that there were children in the audience who were frightened by the creatures and had to leave the screening early. There were also rumors that the studio was just not all around happy with the results they were seeing and that they were going to fire Jonze from the production and hire a new director all together to re-shoot the whole film with new actors and a new script.

To make matters worse, Warner Bros. decided to take the movie off their schedule entirely at one point. Things were starting to look grim for the future of the film until the head of Warner Bros. released a statement stating that they had not in fact replaced Jonze or any of the actors in the film, and in fact they gave him more money and time to fix some of the elements that didn’t work in the rough cut. The biggest thing that worried film buffs was that Jonze would have to make a cut of the film that was the studios vision and not his own. When the statement was made peoples minds were put to ease and the film has not had any problems since.

A few days ago, the trailer for the movie was put before the movie Monsters vs. Aliens and leaked to the Internet. The excitement and approval for it has been overwhelmingly supportive. The trailer starts out with Max asleep in the arms of one of the wild things as they walk through the forest at sunrise. The only lines of the trailer are spoken here then the song Wake Up by the band The Arcade Fire starts playing over the images of Max and his friends on the island of the wild things. We are shown images of them playing on the beach and having dirt clump wars and running wild all over the place.

The song is the perfect choice for the trailer because it creates the right amount of excitement for the audience because of its upbeat nature. It has an irresistible “Oh, Oh, Oh” chorus that can cause a sporadic sing along by anyone in the audience. I think this is done to bring out the “wild thing” inside of all of us that is just yearning to get out.

This is one of the most exciting trailers to come out in recent history and hopefully the end result will be just as exciting. Where the Wild Things Are opens October 16 in theaters nation wide.