A young boy named Max has an active imagination, and he will throw fits if others don't go along with what he wants. Max - following an incident with Claire (his sister) and her friends, and following a tantrum which he throws as a result of his Mother paying more attention to her boyfriend than to him - runs away from home. Wearing his wolf costume at the time, Max not only runs away physically, but runs toward a world in his imagination. This world, an ocean away, is inhabited by large wild beasts, including one named Carol who is much like Max himself in temperament. Instead of eating Max like they normally would with creatures of his type, the wild things befriend Max after he proclaims himself a king who can magically solve all their problems. Written by
Spike Jonze had his voice cast act out their characters on a soundstage, to ensure that the voices came from a performance of actors working together, instead of filming the movie and recording the voices later, or recording the actors individually. The actors wore radio microphones attached to their heads with headbands. Jonze and Catherine Keener would perform Max. Even before this soundstage shoot, Spike took the voice cast to Griffith Park to wage an actual dirt clod war. See more »
When Max is falling head over heels down the sand dune, his crown comes flying off twice. See more »
Hey, Claire. Wanna see something great?
[on the phone]
Who else was there?
It's an igloo! I made it.
Yeah, my brother.
I can't. We're supposed to go to my dad's that weekend.
The snowplows left some snow across the street, and I dug a hole into it.
Go and play with your friends.
See more »
The logos for Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, and Village Roadshow Pictures are covered with Max's scribblings. See more »
Plot Synopsis: Adapted from Sendak's beloved children's book, the story follows Max (Records), a young boy experiencing both the joys and loneliness of childhood. After a fight with his mother (Keener), Max runs away; a wild rumpus ensues.
In the years since principal photography wrapped, Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are has become notorious for its turbulent production. After seeing Jonze's first cut, the studio considered re-shooting the entire film, feeling that it was too dark to attract the audiences an 80 million dollar budget normally justifies. Apparently they were expecting something along the lines of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, not a poignant, complex journey into the mind of a young boy.
It's not a coincidence that Sendak refused to allow any adaptation of his story to enter production until he had hand picked Jonze to direct, feeling the director was the only one up to the task of capturing the subtle sensibilities of his classic tale. The end result is mesmerizing. Jonze's creation is a masterful piece of art, both visually arresting and exquisitely affecting. You will never see boyhood captured as truthfully on film as it is in the film's first 20 minutes. Its richness only increases when Max runs away, the events of his odyssey reflecting the depths of his psyche.
The film is as visually stunning as anything released this or any other year. The images are paired beautifully with the tone of the story, a goal many filmmakers strive for but seldom accomplish. Striking images only carry a film so far, and it's Max that gives the film its heart. Records delivers an exceptional performance in a truly complex role; he masterfully exposes Max's inner pensiveness, expressing a range of emotions most adult actors strive to demonstrate their whole careers.
Those who know me are undoubtedly aware that Sendak's book holds a special place in my heart. If anything, my feelings about the film are indicative of its successes, and should not be read as the words of a fanboy who would have adored the film regardless of its content. My expectations were astronomical, and the fact that the film exceeded those expectations are a true measure of its brilliance. It soars to heights I never could have imagined.
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