from one sad little boy to another: “Where the Wild Things Are” looks through me

Max “Reviews”: Where The Wild Things Are – 3.5 stars out of four.

I think when I first saw “Where The Wild Things Are”, I disliked it for not being perfect. Of course it isn’t. That’s kinda what’s so perfect about it, you know?

Has there ever been a movie that captured so astutely, and seemingly so effortlessly, the loneliness of being young (even if you’re old)? The irrational fear of not being loved when you are so loved, the pent-up frustration without proper outlets, the belief of your own infinite importance. Angry sadness, sad angriness. The mood swings. The longing for a mother’s love.

I watched this film the second time with my own mother, an accountant. She often evaluates with a logical mind. As we watched, she wondered aloud who certain characters were supposed to represent. Was it Max’s mother? His sister? Himself? But to assume that there is an answer is the biggest detriment to fully appreciating this movie. Life is messy. This movie is messy. Being a kid is messy, being an adult, a parent, a sister, is messy. Being a wild thing certainly appears to be (and not just the mud fights and general lack of hygene –who does this sound like I’m talking about?). I think she got that by the end.

I have certain neuroses which are par for the course for your average self-hating hipster. “I don’t dress like that! I don’t like ONLY that music! I wore these glasses BEFORE they were cool!” It causes me to shy away from works that seem like the exact kind of thing I would like, because sometimes I don’t like what I like. This is insecurity speaking.  Therefore I had a certain reluctance, after certain critics I admire pointed it out, to dig a movie written by Dave Eggers, scored by Karen O… of course I would love that, wouldn’t I? Silly hipsters, who love their Dave Eggers, listening to their Yeah Yeah Yeahs albums. That’s not me, is it?

Like what you like, leave the rest behind. All the shit. You can’t let other peoples’ perspectives blind you to how YOU actually feel. I’m not talking about illuminating perspectives which cause you to re-evaluate. I’m talking about feeling embarassed that you like something. People who challenge your perspectives are important. One must be open to new ideas, or one will never grow. Hearing someone talk about why they dislike a movie can often make you realize why you liked it so much to begin with. It can also allow you to realize that not everything you love is perfect, and that you don’t have to expect it to be. Jim Emerson wrote several level-headed and intelligent disses of “The Dark Knight”, and a lot of staunch Nolan supporters wanted him crucified. As an enourmous fan of TDK, I can say that they are must-reads. Challenge yourself constantly.

But don’t forget who you are, what you like. Own it.

I liked this movie a whole lot. The performances, especially those of James Gandolfini as Max’s doppelganger Carol, and the newcomer Max Records as Max, are something to be treasured. Spike Jonze plants us firmly inside Max’s head with the same brilliantly assured filmmaking that put us inside John Malkovich’s. Lance Acord’s cinematography, at times jarring and immediate, and at others quietly observant, is always a thing of beauty (a sometimes messy beauty — messy, beautiful life!). Karen O’s abrasive score, which could have been obnoxious and silly (and sometimes it is) more often than not finds the right notes. The film is a bit repetitive, essentially showing the same cycle several times (things are great, then they’re not, then Max is scared he’ll be eaten…repeat), but again — part of its charms. When a film’s weaknesses are also it’s strengths, someone’s doing something right.

(Orthodox reviews be damned.)


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