Movie Review Friday: Where the Wild Things Are
Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.
In his 1963 book, Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak used fewer than 350 words to tell the story of a unruly little boy who discovers an imaginary, monster-filled kingdom. Spike Jonze's intimate film is darker and more complex, but the spellbinding adaptation preserves the lean force of the slim text.
Sprawling landscapes and intricately sculpted forts create a hypnotic and otherworldly setting where Max, the newly crowned king of the wild things, leads a group of motley monsters on a spree of vandalism and roughhousing that ultimately fails to cure his loneliness. Max has inherited a world of unlimited possibilities, yet the tenor of relationships in the kingdom can be best described by a monster named KW: "I'll eat you up, I love you so."
Trees, rocks, snow, and dirt bear the brunt of the movie's violence, but the characters' emotional hunger claims victims among the monsters as well. Max's ultimate (and rather abrupt) decision to return home to his family is, in some ways, an admission of failure: He realizes he isn't fit to be king.
Jonze's compassionate treatment of these hopeful, reckless characters resonates beyond the theater. Like Max's kingdom, Earth's shrinking forests, polluted oceans, and soot-filled skies prove that humans can be beastly. But unlike Max, we can't sail home to our mothers. This wild world is all we have; now we must learn how best to love it.