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Where The Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze, 2009) February 18, 2010

Posted by Richard Bolisay in Hollywood, Literature.
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Directed by Spike Jonze
Cast: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini
Based on Maurice Sendak’s book

How does one interpret a short piece of classic literature? Simple—bloat it. But there’s an art in bloating that Jonze and Eggers missed, more like ignored, especially how the ennui feels like ennui and not the ennui that childhood experiences can be defensive of. More like missing the point, the brevity of Sendak’s book, not the brevity of its words but the brevity of its ideas and the brevity of getting them across. Prolonging it is not the mistake—it’s the conceit of being able to keep their heads above water for almost two hours, Jonze and Eggers preferring blatant psych to moody balance, the shift between Max’s home and the forest feeling rather forced than imaginative. Exciting is when Max declares the start of the “wild rumpus”—only the rumpus doesn’t live up to its name and wimps out afterward, the anger melts and becomes plain emo. Being predictable is not the crime; rather hinging on it. Being left predicting everything, like there can only be one turn in every corner, no side streets, no cul-de-sacs, no deadends. Like an adult interpreting a children’s book with an adult pair of eyes, in the adult way of analyzing things, pairing off and segregating, hacking thoughts to pieces. There’s a certain phoniness in it that is difficult to express, a phony dressed up so well it escapes sight, which doesn’t manifest without subjecting oneself to deceit. But realization always had it right. If this were a love game, Karen O wins it by a knockout.

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