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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

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Yearning for escape and adventure, a young boy runs away from home and sails to an island filled with creatures that take him in as their king.

Director:

Spike Jonze

Writers:

Spike Jonze (screenplay), Dave Eggers (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,080 ( 305)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 53 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Records ... Max
Pepita Emmerichs Pepita Emmerichs ... Claire
Max Pfeifer Max Pfeifer ... Claire's Friend
Madeleine Greaves Madeleine Greaves ... Claire's Friend
Joshua Jay Joshua Jay ... Claire's Friend
Ryan Corr ... Claire's Friend
Catherine Keener ... Mom
Steve Mouzakis ... Teacher
Mark Ruffalo ... The Boyfriend
James Gandolfini ... Carol (voice)
Vincent Crowley ... Carol Suit Performer
Paul Dano ... Alexander (voice)
Sonny Gerasimowicz ... Alexander Suit Performer
Catherine O'Hara ... Judith (voice)
Nick Farnell ... Judith Suit Performer
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There's one in all of us. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany | Australia | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

More Rice See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,695,407, 18 October 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$77,233,467

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$100,086,793
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mark Ruffalo: In Max Records' previous film The Brothers Bloom (2008), he played Ruffalo's character at a young age. See more »

Goofs

During the "Rumpus", when Carol jumps straight up into a tree trunk, he falls back on his front. However, when the camera cuts to Max, then back to Carol, he is now on his back. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Max: Hey, Claire. Wanna see something great?
Claire: [on the phone] Who else was there?
Max: It's an igloo! I made it.
Claire: Yeah, my brother.
Max: Hey, Claire!
Claire: I can't. We're supposed to go to my dad's that weekend.
Max: The snowplows left some snow across the street, and I dug a hole into it.
Claire: Go and play with your friends.
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Crazy Credits

The logos for Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, and Village Roadshow Pictures are covered with Max's scribblings. See more »

Connections

Referenced in This Is the End (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Rumpus
Written by Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Tristan Bechet
Produced by Karen O and Tom Biller (as tbiller)
Performed by Karen O and the Kids
Courtesy of DGC/Interscope Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Gritty, Weighty, and All the Same Childlike...Pure Sendak!"
6 November 2009 | by beccad90See all my reviews

Maurice Sendak, who recently passed away, was one of the most controversial yet still imaginative authors to ever have been published. The stories he wrote are very much like Grimm's Fairy Tales: whimsical and fun, but still dark and threatening. He didn't pander or sugarcoat his stories simply because he didn't feel a need (as well as a rather unpleasant childhood that introduced him to mortality in a less gentle light than most kids, but that's another story). These come through in such books as 1981's Outside Over There, 1970's In the Night Kitchen, and, in the case of this review, 1963's Where the Wild Things Are.

The funny thing about the latter is that this book is only 9 sentences long! That's a short book, even by children's standards, despite the story being told more with pictures than words. So, naturally, director Spike Jonze and writer Dave Eggers had to go out on a limb with the extra effort if they were to successfully make a movie based on it. The effort is an interesting and impressive venture; No embellishment, no sugarcoating, just a stripped- down, but still whimsical tale of a child's curiosity and imagination.

The story is pretty much the same: Max, (Max Records, believably a kid), an imaginative, but frustrated kid gets into a fight with his stressed-out mother (Catherine Keener), runs away, and soon finds himself floating to a strange land, wherein dwell creatures that are both terrifying and fascinating at the same time. It's a simple story, but, as said before, they get across a lot with what they have.

The performances in this movie are stellar. Max Records plays Max as...well, a kid. He doesn't pander to the audience or become cloying and 'pwe-shuss' at any point in the movie. He's angry, bratty, imaginative, playful, greedy, attention-seeking, kind and all those other things a normal kid is. This doesn't make him a bad person, but it does make him humble and endearing when coming across what he sees and experiences with the titular "Wild Things." Speaking of which, these creatures not only look great, but are also something of (which has been made abundantly clear by most of the critics, but it's still there) a representation of Max himself. Take the imposing, but enthusiastic Carol (James Gandolfini, aka Tony Soprano), for instance. He's Max's pent-up frustration, creativity and longing for love. Loudmouth Judith (Catherine O'Hara, a scene stealer) is Max's brazen independence. Gentle Ira (Forest Witaker), is Max's artistic ideals. Shy Alexander (Little Miss Sunshine's Paul Dano) is Max's longing to be heard, as well as his fragile naïveté. And the gentle KW (Lauren Ambrose) is the feeling of maternity that Max has not felt from his own mother in a long, long time. Once he discovers these fragments and puts them together, he realizes that there is more love to be had at home than he realized.

The visuals in this movie are also great. The place where the island is doesn't have any magical places aside from the Wild Things themselves, but its full of trees, dirt and desert plains that are barren and empty. But, it's what they do with it that makes it impressive. They have huts made of branches, a dirt clod fight, long walks along the desert, and even the building of a huge hut. It's so massive, just like an imagination.

The only problem with this movie is that it can gets pretty depressing at times. It's probably supposed to be pushing boundaries, as the original book did, but the conversations, dialogue and themes can become quite weighty, and brings the movie to a grinding halt. This is especially true towards the end, when Carol becomes more and more savage, and tensions rise between Max and the Wild Things. But, that being said, it does give the movie some conflict and raises the stakes for Max's safe return home, despite his strong bond with these creatures.

Overall, this movie is, like the book, a portrait of childhood at its core. There's no talking down to the audience, but at the same time, it's more for nostalgic adults than kids. But, the adults that enjoyed the book will enjoy what Jones, Egger, Sendak, and this movie have to say. It also looks beautiful, with fantastic sets, creatures, and characters to ogle at. There's so much love and detail put into this movie that all that can be said is...well...

I'd eat this movie up, I love it so...even though Roger Ebert beat me to that, it's still true.


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