Written by Tiffany
Opened October 16, 2009 | Runtime:1 hr. 34 min.
PG: mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language
From the moment the opening credits roll, you know this is Max’s movie. His perspective and his story to tell. Just like the book, this isn’t a happy go lucky fairy-tale of childhood innocence and wonderment. Max’s world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He is sad, lonely, confused and yes, angry. This isn’t just shown in his out of control behavior and soulful eyes; but also in the bleak greyness throughout the movie. There are no bright colors here. No cat in a red-striped hat. They got the spirit and tone of the book spot on!
I took three of my kids: 5 & 18 year old daughters and 13 year old son. The 5 year old seemed to get a little bored, she was more fidgety than usual and wanted to leave the second it was over. In the car she proclaimed it her favoritest movie ever, but she proclaims that about most movies she sees. She’s not really the most reliable or discerning movie critic. My 18 year old loved it and she is pretty particular about her movies. My son said it was OK. He couldn’t really name anything he loved about it. And when I asked him what he didn’t like it, he said the Wild Things noses running all the time was kinda gross. So there’s that. We talked about what the monsters each symbolize and why would the movie makers deliberately give the monsters runny noses (to emphasize their childness, don’t little kids usually have runny noses?) He seemed to like it more, the more we talked about it.
And that, I think, is the key to this movie. While it’s based on a well known and loved children’s book, I think it’s more appreciated by the adults who loved it as kids. And it seems to be written for them. A movie intended for the child inside those adults, and for them to share with their children. I definitely fall into this group. I couldn’t wait for this movie to come out, and to see it with my kids.
There were a couple of scenes where my 5 year old got a little scared, but only for a moment or two. And there were a few places where it seemed to get a little long. I can definitely see small children being bored, it’s not fast-paced or action-packed. No flashy CGI or 3D special effects to be found here. I didn’t bring my 8 year old. He would have been bored out of his skull, made at least three bathroom trips and announced that he wanted to leave by the half-way point.
Did I love this movie? Not as much as I really WANTED to love this movie. I wanted to adore it and rave about it and tell everyone that this is the most wonderful movie ever made. But truth be told, I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautiful movie. One we’ll buy the minute it comes out on DVD and my kids will watch over and over again. It tells it’s story well, stays true to the book, and was made with Maurice Sendak’s blessing. You can’t ask for better than that. But I think my hopes and expectations were just too high. Impossible to live up to and destined to disappoint. I left the theater with less of a bounce in my step than I’d entered it. I had wanted just a little bit more.
My overall review: while true to the book, it doesn’t transcend it. Younger children may have a harder time staying interested, well-timed snacks are key!