Wild Rumpus

January 23, 2010

I’ve been told some people had mixed feelings about the recent movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, but I absolutely loved it.

There was one thing that bothered me, and it must mean I’m getting older. It bothered me that the adventure takes place, in the movie, while Max has run away and his mother (Catherine Keener, who is fantastic here, as usual) doesn’t know where he is (in the book he’s up in his room without any supper).

But mostly, I thought the movie captured beautifully the spirit of the book in showing the joy and sorrow and imagination of children.  The fine line between having fun and being hurt. Any time Max (Max Records) cried, my heart broke and I cried. Any time he grinned, well, my heart broke and I cried.  And it doesn’t mean it’s an unhappy story, although it could seem that way. It just means that, like Sendak’s work, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers understand that it’s difficult to be a child. That it’s difficult to be a parent, or a family, or any person. And that imagination can be scary, but can also be the greatest help.