Thursday, February 10, 2011

Can You Direct Me To Where The Wild Things Are?

Guess what.

No, not that, what are you some kind of weirdo? Guess again.

Dude. Not even close. And stop naming specific body parts, that's freaky. One more try.

...I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. The correct answer is BLOGOVERSARY BLOGPOCALYPSE BLOGSTRAVAGANZBLOG. Blog. It's tomorrow and it is going to ROCK YOUR FACE OFF. Retroactively anyway, because on the actual Saturday I will be at a Flogging Molly concert. So there. But what happens when the warm glow of my blog's b-day leaves you a cold and lifeless shell with nothing left to live for?

GUEST WEEK-A-PALOOZA AND OTHER SUCH MADE UP WORDS!! Several of my guest bloggers have already sent me their posts and I am so excited to put them up. It is going to be so epic you might want to switch out your undergarments of choice for some Depends. For all the epic.

Moving on.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of update, folks (yes, you're folks now, I have made this decision and it is IRREVOCABLE), tis midterm-y paper-time and such. However, like the large majority of the papers I have written in my four years of higher learning, it was about movies. Specifically, Spike Jonze's dark foray into the world of making small children poop themselves with terror (no more poop jokes after this, I promise).

"Everyone can see you, Ted. You are not being whimsical, you're just embarrassing yourself"

Where The Wild Things Are. The only movie based on a children's book from the 60's that was marketed to 20 something indie hipsters (why else use an Arcade Fire song int the trailer?). It sure wasn't aimed at munchkins, that's for sure. It's dark, unsettling, existential and just generally weird.

Like giant monster and little kid wandering around the desert talking about how one day the sun is going to die kind of weird

Many parents, perhaps recalling the friendly nostalgia of having the book read to them when they were munchkins, took their kids to this movie only to have them traumatized by the massive and impressively lifelike Wild Things threatening to devour our young hero, Max, played by the conveniently named Max Records. Although "hero" is kind of stretching it. The film begins with little Max dressed in the trademark wolf suit rolling down the stairs trying to wring his dog's neck. It's supposed to be romping I suppose, but the dog sure doesn't seem to be enjoying it. After that we see him building a snow fort, trying to get his older sister Claire to come check it out. Claire is the typical teenage older sister in that her brother ranks somewhere between dirty underwear and a venomous spider on her "things I like" list. We learn from her phone conversation she uses to ignore him that their parents are divorced. So immediately we can infer that Max is probably dealing with some neglect issues.

Don't worry, it gets worse.

So Max acts out against his sister in revenge for her abandoning him for her teenage friends. His mother, played wonderfully by Catherine Keener, is overworked and stressed out. It's obvious that she loves Max but just doesn't have the time to give him the attention he needs. What's more, in class he's told by the science teacher that one day the sun will burn out and die but not to worry about because humanity will be wiped out long before that, either by war or natural disaster or pollution. What. The. Hell.

I didn't realize they taught a Nihilistic Philosophy class for eight year-olds

So Max is dealing with a lot. Then one night, Mom's boyfriend pops in for a visit (played by a blink and you miss him Mark Ruffalo for whatever reason. Also, random trivia: Max Records played a younger version of Ruffalo's character in The Brothers Bloom), for whatever reason, this sends Max over the edge and he has a hissy fit, eventually biting his mother and fleeing the house for the forest...Crappy life notwithstanding, Max is kind of a brat. In the forest he finds a boat and sails off to the land of the Wild Things! Surely you'd think that now things will stop being so dark and take a fantastic and magical turn!

And you'd be totally wrong! Seriously, what are you, stupid?

The Wild Things Max meets are in a disarray. Carol, voiced excellently by James Gandolfini, is destroying their homes because he is upset that K.W., voiced by Lauren Ambrose, has left the other Wild Things, who are Alexander the whiny goat boy voiced Paul Dano, Douglas the giant eagle voiced by Chris Cooper and bizarre couple Ira and Judith, voiced by Forrest Whittaker and Catherine O'Hara. Max joins the gang and just barely keeps from getting devoured by spinning a story about how he is a king who has come to make their lives better. The Wild Things buy it and declare Max the new king. Then it gets happy, right?

Just stop asking

Things get bad. The Wild Things are intensely emotionally needy and react well, like an eight yera-old would, when things don't go their way. they're basically a group of gaint eight year-olds that can kill you. Whimsical! Anyway, Max must learn lessons about life and growing up and also try not get eaten. That too. The soundtrack is great, done by Karen O of the yeah yeah yeah's and a band of children she presumably picked up off the street. The Wild Things themselves look unbelievably real and Max Records does a good job conveying this imaginative, emotionally conflicted and occasionally bratty kid. It's a movie heavy with subtext and symbolism and maybe meant more for adults than kids. One thing I will say: when I first saw the movie in theaters and left afterwards, a mom was walking out with her kid who seemed to be eight or nine. Her face was basically "Oh my God what did I just take my child too" the kid was bouncing up and going "AWESOME" So there. Maybe not all kid's movies have to be patronizing piles of crap. Where the Wild Things Are scores four catapults out of five.


(When Max first meets the Wild Things and they doubt he has power because he's so small)

Max: "Small is good. My powers are able to slip right through the cracks"

Judith: "But what if the cracks are closed up?"

Max: "Then I have a re-cracker, which goes right through that"

Judith: "But what if they have some sort of material that re-crackers can't get through?"

Max: "Then I have a double re-cracker, which can get through anything in this whole universe. And that's the end, and there's nothing more powerful after that, ever. Period"

Alexander: "He has a double re-cracker"

Ira: "He does sound powerful"


  1. Sounds like an interesting movie, and one I may have to see. True, there are movies that kids appreciate way more than their parents, and usually get more out of the movie as well:0

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  2. Karen O and Arcade Fire and Paul Dano and Catherine O'Hara and at least three cast members of various Showtime/HBO shows? Dude. This makes me wish I were a hipster.

    My article will be super fucking epic, brosky. I assure you.

  3. You're right. I put this film on for my family and they were all a bit confused by the end. I probably would have enjoyed more by myself in full indy hipster mode. They're all so... depressed.


  4. Interesting movie and hopefully will make it to my list of must see!

  5. Mary: You'll get something out of it, it's a good movie

    Simon: It better be. If it doesn't permanently blind me from all the awesome I will be disappointed

    Chris: My friends revoked my movie-choosing rights for awhile when I dragged them to go see it :( le sigh

    Yoga: It's a bit of a downer and kind of out there but definitely worth a look

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