Review: 'Where the Wild Things Are' is Rich in Both Style and Intellect

By: Jacqueline Allen Email
By: Jacqueline Allen Email

In ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ Max (Max Records) is a troubled child. His parents have recently divorced and his sister, who was once his best friend, ignores him in favor of the “cool” kids. One night after getting into a physical altercation with his mom in front of her new boyfriend, Max runs away and finds a boat that takes him to an island filled with large, monstrous creatures. There, he is made their king, but due to disagreements and misunderstandings within the group, Max realizes that he doesn’t belong in their world and comes home.

‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is a stunning, lush look into the brilliance of adolescent fantasy. In a day and age where kids are mostly sitting around, watching TV and playing video games, it’s nice to see a depiction of a child with an imagination and how he uses it to overcome the badness in his life. However, it also illustrates how people (not just children) need to step out of their minds every once in a while so that they don’t hurt the ones they love.

The animatronics/CG work is flawless and the visuals are astonishing. The costumes (created by the Jim Henson Co.) look terrific and as realistic as giant, furry monsters possibly can. The faces the creatures make look like the emotions they are trying to convey and the movements made by each actor inside their suits are steady, graceful and realistic, not clunky or clumsy.

Max Records as Max is a fantastic little actor and hopefully producers will cast him in more roles as a precocious, brilliant child. He brings life and charisma to the character and without him, the movie would have more than likely failed. The creature actors are all outstanding as well, especially James Gandolfini as Carol, Max’s best friend. His voice expresses so much emotion and passion that you don’t need to know what’s going on in the situation to know what he’s feeling at that moment in time.

The most valuable lesson this movie imparts is that with a vivid imagination, anyone can work through their problems. When he runs out on his mother and “sails away,” Max comes upon a new, pretend world that he is able to channel his real-life problems into so he can work them out. Even though he is in a land of make-believe, the monsters he befriends all suffer from the same things humans do: they have fights, they get depressed and they fall in love. He learns valuable lessons through these dream creatures and when he goes home, he is able to use what he’s experienced to better understand where his mother and her frustrations come from and how to handle them better in the future.

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