I hated this movie.
Sorry to be so forward but I figured I’d get the ugly truth out of the way up front. Also, early on I’d like to acknowledge the things that weren’t terrible about the movie, so as to have a clear conscience when I proceed to ridicule it.
Spike Jonze is a visionary director, there’s no doubt about that. I consider Adaptation a masterpiece and he maintains his visual flair here too. The CGI animated faces on the real bodies of the wild things works extremely well. His casting choices, such as James Gandolfini as Carol, are also impressive.
But none of that changes the fact that this movie is nothing but noise.
Our protagonist, an insufferable brat named Max, runs around screaming in the opening of the film (foreshadowing!). As soon as he runs away from home and into the world of his imagination, where the wild things preside, he continues to run and scream. And after he and the wild things run around and scream, they proceed to run around and scream some more, whilst throwing things at each other. And finally he runs home.
If you’re thinking to yourself that in that synopsis I didn’t mention anything that remotely sounded like a plot, you’re exactly right. Nothing happens in this film.
The vast majority of the film is either, as mentioned, Max and the wild things running around, screaming and having a good time, or bickering with one another. Each wild thing has a distinct personality and each one could be viewed as a reflection of a different aspect of the psyche of a child. Meaning the wild things themselves act like children.
Newsflash: Children are annoying.
Hence, I was cringing throughout the duration of the film. In no way was this immature nonsense something I wanted to (or for that matter would willingly pay to) sit through.
Are there more layers to it? Is there depth and symbolism to be had here?
Perhaps. I didn’t read much into it right off the bat but if you have the patience to withstand the onslaught of noise that it is embedded in, maybe you’ll find something to appreciate that I simply could not.
And to answer the question you may be pondering: no, I haven’t read the book. I remember it from my childhood, the cover at least, but I don’t recall its content. But that is neither here nor there. The film must be able to stand on its own as an individual product. If I read the book it may have set my expectations differently but I still would have had a headache leaving the theater.
(For the record, I expected the kid to go through some actual tragedy and escape to where the wild things are. Then move back and forth between real and fake. The trailer sure made it look that way at least.)
What this movie needs is, well, a storyline. But even more importantly: profanity.
If this movie had some harsh language in it, then I’d be a little more interested in some of these fiery exchanges. Towards the tail end of the film, when I’ve already sat through an hour of pointless fighting and KW steps on Carol’s face and they bicker again I really needed to hear someone say, “Oh yea? Well Fuck you Carol! What have you done for me lately you prick?!”
I have to admit, I became so disinterested in the film toward the end that in between my constant thoughts of “Why am I watching this?” I began to fantasize about the American Military swooping in and carpet bombing the damn island and running a block-ops extraction mission to get the kid out safe. Seeing a laser-sight dot appear on Judith’s head would have made my night.
Okay, I’m exhausted from typing with such vitriol. I’ll sum up the movie by saying the execution was there but I found the content to be unwatchable. Unless of course you don’t mind being audibly assaulted for 1.5 hours.