Friday, October 16, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Oh, guys. Where the Wild Things Are was so good. So, so good.

After school I took the boys to the book store to read and purchase the book. We have a shabby soft cover somewhere but I was afraid it wouldn't stand the test of time and I couldn't find it anyway. I wish I had videotaped little kid's reaction to hearing the book for the first time because it was magical. His eyes were wide, scanning the illustrations, his little mouth in an "O" shape or in a wide smile. So sweet.

We were lucky enough to see this at the super swanky new theater in my city. The leather recliners were more comfortable and bigger than the couch cushion I usually share with the kids. I was able to drink wine throughout, which was unbelievably awesome. I sat right next to an alone, fat, mouth-breathing gum chewer who I know bought his tickets and reserved that exact seat at least 2 days ahead of time and he didn't bother me a bit because we each had so much space. Also, I could tell he was a dork like me who was a huge fan of the book and a few times I even felt like hugging him. (But I didn't, because that would've been weird and gross.) We did look at each other and grin several times.

I really don't even know what to tell you. If the costume and set designers don't win academy awards for this, then justice has not been done. I've never seen anything like it...every minute was a visual treat. It's just insane the emotion and character development of the monsters and how they were EXACTLY like the character illustrations in the book.

Also, Max Records, who played Max, was magical. At first I thought he was too old for the character, but he was a fantastic little actor who was full of emotion and who was so everything beautiful about little boys in one tough-but-vulnerable, medium-sized package that I was completely in love. I was especially touched by how much he's like little kid. He is naughty and mad and out of control and wonderful and imaginative and sweet and funny. The mom was great too, and the two of them together brought me to tears.

However, I didn't cry like I thought I would. It was beautiful and nostalgic and wonderful in every sense of the word and I did tear up at least twice, but for those of you who are afraid you'll cry the whole time because you did during the commercials, you won't. Also, it wasn't that scary. There's one scene near the beginning where the monsters gather in a circle and threaten to eat him--and that's a little scary, I might take a little scaredy-cat to the bathroom around then, and then one more where the main monster gets mad and chases him, but it was way less dark than I had anticipated. The monsters were mostly funny and endearing.

Before the movie began, I was worried I would feel let down since I had built it up so much in my mind, but that didn't happen. It was better than I had even hoped. The kids were entranced, Big Kid almost wet his pants because he didn't want to miss a minute. At the beginning, there's a rough ocean scene with Max in a sailboat and the waves are crashing and the cinematography was all crazy and our seats were vibrating with the sound, and Big Kid kept looking at me and saying, "Impressive. Are you impressed? I'm really impressed." Yep, I was impressed.

little kid sat at the edge of his seat, occasionally grabbing my arm and squeezing it or kissing my hand and smiling. As the movie ended, there was a slight hesitation and then someone began clapping. Slowly, shyly, the whole theater began clapping. I would say 85% of the theater stayed until the credits ended. Big Kid complained that it wasn't long enough.

When we got home we made a monster pile on the bed like in the movie, and talked about our favorite monsters and favorite parts and the boys begged me to read the book again. Mr. Ashley raved about the cast and I went on and on about the music and the visual effects and it's trueness to the book. I was wondering how they'd do it, with the book being a short picture book, but they did it. They didn't stray from the original concept, they just filled in a lot of blanks.

This seems ridiculously long, but I seriously loved this movie. I think childless people would love it, I think people who haven't read the book would love it, I really can't imagine not loving it. Even if you can't sit in a plush recliner and drink wine while enjoying it, you'll still love it.

When we got home, I told Mr. Ashley that if we had a 3rd child and it was a boy, I'm naming him Max Atlas and he said he would go for Max. He also didn't object to Atlas. This feels like a victory, even if I don't really plan on having a 3rd child.

Anyway, go see the movie and report back. Pronto.


Just Lisa said...

little kid is three, right? Was this his first movie theater experience? I want to take my 3-year-old, but I'm worried that she's not ready yet. Suggestions?

Unknown said...

little kid has been to several movies and has surprisingly always been good. Big Kid was scared of his first movie theater experience (he was 2.5) and it was Curious George--so keep in mind that just the darkness and the loudness can be a little scary.

little kid wasn't scared, but during the monsters gathering around part, I did squeeze his hand and lean over and say something like, "Those naughty monsters, Max will teach them!"

You may want to consider taking her to see the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3D thing first if she's familiar with those movies so you can test out the whole theater-going thing first.

Or, take her and really talk it all up, read her the book so she knows the basic story (happy ending), go to a matinee so it's not expensive and she's not tired, and take her to the bathroom just as Max finishes breaking up the monster houses once he gets to the island.

Charity said...

Thank You so much for this review! I have been so stoked to take my kids and was starting to get worried that I would be disappointed. I am taking my two youngest next weekend (girl 9, boy 3) and they are getting excited also. Every time a commercial for it comes on Ladon grabs his book or whoever is standing nearby and repeats over and over that he wants to see Max. Your post has made me even more excited! Thank You!
Oh and we took the whole family to see the Toy Story double feature. It was my birthday request LOL I love those movies!

Desiree said...

I am glad that it didn't disappoint but I still think I have to wait for the DVD as I cried at your review.

LOL If there aren't 2 lines on that stick tomorrow, I must be losing my marbles.

Anonymous said...

Saw the movie last night and LOVED it! It was beautiful in every way. My eight-year-old said "now I know what was happening on all those blank pages in the book." I really want to see the movie again and again!!!!

Lori said...

Ok, now I have to see the movie! And buy a copy of the book for the due-any-day-now baby.

I love the name Max Atlas. You should have a third just so that you can use that name!

miss. chief said...

Now I REALLY can't wait to see it. YES!

Melanie said...

Oh! I was so ready for this movie, and Hubby and I took Big and Little last night for Big's birthday. Like you, I have read this book since I was tiny, and our family has so many sayings that stem from this it. When I first saw the preview I almost peed my pants with excitement and anticipation, and almost cried that my mom was gone and would never get to see it as a movie. I was so sure of the movie's amazement that I even took Little to it as his first movie, even though he is 2.5. He is my quieter child and I thought he would do well.
Sadly, I did not find the movie to live up to my expectations. I honestly cannot put my finger on what was missing for me. I LOVE Spike Jonze, Maurice Sendak ("bad" comments and all!), and the book is in the top 3 of my childhood, but it was missing a certain something for me. It was certainly well-written, entertaining, visually stimulating, and in time with the book, but (and maybe it was my two loud, constantly moving children or my missing glass of wine) I could never just let myself fall into it and in love with it.
I am sad now as I feel like I let myself down by not making this a connection between my childhood and adult life, but that is how I feel.
Sorry, because I know you will judge and hate me now because of this. I know I have judged people quite harshly based on less than this, but it's how I feel.

Unknown said...

Melanie, like I'm really going to judge and hate you because you didn't like a book-to-movie adaptation that I happened to like? Give me a little bit of credit! Everyone's entitled to their opinion and as long as they can express it without sounding like an a-hole, I'm (usually) A-OK with it.

carla said...

Ughh-I'm going to have to agree with Melanie. I wanted so badly to like this movie. Maybe my expectations were too high? I wasn't prepared for the dark/moodiness of the film. My 10 year old liked it better than his 4 year old brother. In fact, the 4 year old left the theater in tears and not in a good way...He was wrapped up in Max leaving the monsters and not in his return to home. Maybe if we had read the book again, prior to going in, we wouldn't have expected a chipper, Disney-like flick. It was different. And definitely a rental..
Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I can't wait to see it.

Maddness of Me said...

The scene where the older kids smash his igloo... I don't know how they got him to pull off that cry and that face but if that is not an academy award then I don't know what is and will give up on the Oscars

and wasn't there something about the music that matched what was in your head when you read the book?

Samantha K said...

one of the main things that make this movie seem less "child-like" was the actors they chose for the voices, especially James Gandolfini (from the Sopranos)