October 17, 2009

Where Are The Wild Things? In a peaceful dream world.

It's a scorching July day, and you and your buddies are playing in the recently installed above ground pool. Super Soakers XP 500s, 200s, and Free Willy rafts are all part of the equation. Mid "Waterworld" reenactment, someone forces you underwater for a little too long. Immediately you feel like you're going to drown. It's not fun anymore, you burst out of the water, dripping wet and storm into his living room and then delete his save games in Golden Eye on N64 (it doesn't matter that he has unlocked the Aztec level).

"Where The Wild Things Are" is a film that captures all these emotions from childhood. From the the joys of simple "play" to the uncertainty and fear of when things go wrong. It is not a perfect film, it has some pacing issues, and it's lack of plot may bother people. However, you'll be hard pressed to find a more visually and emotionally striking film this year.

Technically, the film is as refreshing as Country Time Lemonade served by your mother to calm you down after you delete your buddies video game (yeah it's a big deal). Director Spike Jonze uses special effects to create everything from sea storms, to massive forts, and most importantly the Wild Things themselves. Half puppets, half actors, and with CGI faces, the wild things make the Transformers look like soulless pieces of scrap metal (which I guess they are?).

Yet all these striking visual elements don't mean anything without a good story, and here is where the film semi-falters. The screenwriter David Eggers, is a prize winning novelist, and his script doesn't really have a conventional story line, rather like all of his stories, rides on the strength of the emotions of the characters. This style of story telling leads to an extremely moving story that sometimes slows the pacing of the film. The pace bothers some people, yet I didn't mind it because the pay off is massive.

Without a doubt, there's a lot going on in the film. The Wild Things may fragments of Max's real life or they could be metaphors for human emotions (I like this theory). Either way, Spike Jonze, his creative team, and Max Records, the child actor who is the soul of film together create an enjoyable film. Every element combines to form a film that is not wild at all, but rather, an emotionally experience that is magically peaceful.

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