Where the Wild Things Are (Blu-ray)
I’ve been awake for about 10 hours since I saw Spike Jonez’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE and I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking about it since. I feel like I just finished it and I’m already planning on when I can see it again. I’m a little taken aback by the complexity of the film and its ability to address so many themes and emotions, especially since the source material is a children’s book with barely 9 sentences. At first glance, some might think this is a simple movie about a kid and a bunch of furry creatures. But anyone that didn’t have a perfect childhood will know that this movie is so much more.
Max (played wonderfully by Max Records) is a little boy struggling to find his place in the world. His sister is becoming a teenager and is too old to play with him, his mom is single and stressed at work and he doesn’t have any friends close to him. When his loneliness culminates into an outburst at his mother, he runs away from home and travels to a distant island where he encounters several weird looking creatures. They’re instantly enamored with little Max and make him their king. While “ruling” his kingdom, Max befriends the creatures and that sets off a journey of discovery that changes Max forever.
I’ve never seen a movie that was able to capture a particular emotion in a film as well as this exemplified what it meant to be lonely as a child. Loneliness is tough to deal with at any age, but as a child, it can be devastating and can lead to confusion and any other gauntlet of dysfunctional emotions. Some kids act out on these feelings by misbehaving in school, others immerse themselves in their toys and some kids create imaginary friends, but Max created a world of strange creatures, each one representing something he was feeling or something he wanted to feel. Doubt, anger, depression, pride, fear and frustration are all manifested into furry creatures that Max interacts with. But as Max interacts with these creatures, he tries to fulfill various emotions that he wants to feel; security, support, love, reassurance, calmness, only to realize the difficulty of pleasing everyone. These interactions lead him to accept his situation and basically, to grow up.
Your childhood might be the key to appreciating this film. If you were an only child, or came from a broken home, you should be able to relate to Max and the emotions that he goes through. But if those emotions are foreign to you and you grew up with two loving parents and a supportive sibling, then you just might not get it. This movie, more than any in recent memory, is one that you have to be able to relate to in order to appreciate. Needless to say, this movie hit home for me and I found myself transported back to my childhood, albeit not necessarily in places I want to be. But any movie that can have such an emotional impact on an audience is impressive in my book.
A lot of how I base my Blu-ray review rating is related to how much I got compared to how much I wanted. In this case, it’s a shame we didn’t get a commentary or an in-depth documentary about the film. There was a lot going on and I would have loved to hear Spike Jonze talk about it.
Video: The 2.40:1 transfer isn’t perfect, but it is nice. The transfer fell a little flat during some of the darker scenes, but overall it was a fine transfer.
Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD track was very nice and when it had a chance, it really boomed.
Higglety Pigglet Pop, or There Must Be More to Life (24:02): Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker voice characters in this insanely odd animated short. This is actually based on another Maurice Sendak book and…it’s just odd. I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s not really animated or stop motion, but rather a hybrid of the two, combined with some live-action. It’s cute, in a quirky kind of way.
HBO First Look (13:21): We’ve seen a thousand of these and this one is no different. If not for Jonze’s unique directing methods, it would have been a waste, but getting some insight into what went on during filming was nice.
Where the Wild Things Are Shorts (37): This is a series of about 8 mini-featurettes by Lance Bangs and cover a variety of topics. Most of them focus on little Max Records and his trials and tribulations filming the movie. I enjoyed the “Absurd Difficulty of Filming a Dog Running and Barking at the Same Time”; it’s great because of how much work went into filming a small scene in the very beginning. Overall, these are fun to watch and they won’t bore you.