Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonzes’ Wild Things are not really very wild.

Spike Jonzes’ Wild Things are not even that scary.

Spike Jonzes’ Wild Things are depressed, neurotic, childish, angry, lonely and sad. A projection of our hero Max’s own melancholy mixed with of that of the grown-ups that surround him in the real world.

Max is a lonely boy of divorced parents with an active imagination and an excellent wolf costume.  He misses his dad, is angry with his sister and doesn’t understand why his Mum won’t play with him. When he runs away from home and meets the Wild Things, he thinks he’s found kindred souls, who just want to play, be looked after and stay together as a happy group forever. As Max becomes their king, he soon discovers that the Wild Things are selfish, egocentric, full of post-modern angst and just a little bit whiney.

In fact, the Wild Things are just the kinds of neurotic and self obsessed indie flick characters that we’d expect from the likes of Spike Jonze and his similar band of US independent directors. Max soon decides it’s best for him to go home to his Mum before he gets eaten – but he leaves knowing he still loves the big furry beasts, because they can’t help the way they are, and don’t really mean to be bad.

Spike Jonzes’ Wild Things are a handy way to blur the lines between childhood and adulthood. They nicely show how both parents and children can get it wrong, whilst still meaning well and loving each other all the same.

But for characters in a children’s film, Spike Jonzes’ Wild Things certainly make being happy seem rather complicated. Whilst I’m sure that no child will be coming out of this film feeling as terrified as recent press would have you believe, I am sure that they’ll be wondering why the Wild Things are so sad – and they’ll probably be feeling bit sad themselves.

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2 Comments»

  Dave Medlo wrote @

As a father to be I have had no concerns about bringing a child into this world until, that is, I saw Wild Things today; now I’m a mess of neurosis and doubt as I’ve realised / remembered what a mess of emotions and cruel drama childhood can be…

Of course it’s not that bad to the child. It’s only as adults we look back and realise how affecting and traumatic certain childhood events can be. Kids bounce back far better than we give them credit for…

This is a movie about childhood for adults, not a film for kids. It’s about the melancholy and depression that you see in yourself years after you grew up.

To misquote Larkin: “they’re fucked up, your mum and dad.”

That said, I thought it was a lovely film and was beautifully made. The early scenes of wild rumpusing are about as pure as can be. Well worth the wait…

  Jacqueline Chell wrote @

I agree with you, Dave. It’s probably our adult hindsight that makes us get butterflies in our stomachs when we see Max’s igloo get smashed and his tears start to fall.

Kids are probably over it as soon as the next adventure comes along.

It really was a beautiful film – the building sequence is stunning.


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