Where the Wild Things Are is a fantasy film. Thoroughly. It occurs in the protagonist’s imagination after a dreadful fight with his mother. Quite a number of reviews that I’ve read for this have revolved around childhood nostalgia that encompassed reading the book on which it’s based. I’ve never read the book, and to an extent I feel that knowledge of the subject lends itself to a more emotional involvement in the piece.
There’s one issue I have with the film – Max. I suppose, the point of the whole experience is to show Max’s maturity, but for the first half of the film I really couldn’t muster up any empathy for this spoilt brat. Perhaps, that’s the whole point. But it’s still a little disconcerting. And that final scene where the luminous Catherine Keener embraces him was almost vomit inducing. I just wanted to slap him. But truthfully, it’s the only significant issue I had with the film. Sure, it’s a pretty big one. But it’s still only one.
By the end of it all you can’t help but be charmed by the wild things, even if you do want to slap Max. Like with an animated film, the voice work is essentially the driving force and here it’s well done. Particularly by Catherine O’Hara and James Gandolfini. Still, I’m not sure why it’s made so many cry. It didn’t strike me as particularly distressing. But that could just be my heartlessness. I don’t know.