‘Where the Wild Things Are’ adaptation gives in-depth look into the classic children’s book

DKS Editors

Film’s plot, language geared toward kids

“Where the Wild Things Are” was just a children’s book portraying the vast imagination of a wild boy – that is, until it was taken to the big screen.

The collaboration of director Spike Jonze and author Maurice Sendak creates an almost epic adaptation of the classic 1963 children’s picture book set to release tomorrow.

While previews show the potential of a brilliant major motion picture for all ages, the final product appears to aim more toward the interest of children.

Rating:3 « out of 5. The movie is more aimed at kids, which may be misleading to mature audiences who have seen the previews.

With the obvious need for depth and development to create a 20-page illustrated story into a 94-minute film, the plot stays pretty true to the book.

“A lot of the times you read a book, and you use your own imagination, and you take different things from a book, and then you go to see the movie and it’s all the director’s take on it,” English lecturer Matthew Shank said about the film.

While many adaptations of books condense the story, “Where the Wild Things Are” allowed Jonze more room for creativity and development.

The well-known story tells of a boisterous boy’s creation of a distant land after being sent to his room for causing a ruckus at home.

The opening scene complements this as Max (Max Records) appears in his signature wolf costume, chasing and antagonizing his dog.

The addition of a somewhat negligent mother (Catherine Keener) and a pretentious older sister leaves viewers assuming that Max’s tantrums are a cry for attention.

Contrary to the book, he flees from home to discover a sailboat that carries him away to the land where monsters roam – puppets and computer-animated creatures made very similar to those in the book.

The monsters in the movie were quite realistic, with serene cinematography.

Max is crowned king and made a Wild Thing himself, ruling over seemingly scary monsters and promising order and happiness.

“He’s not afraid of (the monsters); they’re afraid of him, and I think kids like that idea that you can kind of control your fears or you can overcome them,” Shank said.

The monsters act just as children do with violent dirt-clod fights and extreme forts.

It’s made apparent, then, that these harmless beasts are derived from Max’s imagination. Their simplistic dialogue and childish ways can only come from the creativity of a child, which in turn forms a flaw within the movie.

The movie enthralls children with comedic arguments and wacky characters, but may leave adults bored and wanting more from the story.

Themes of family and friendship, much of what Max lacks in his own life, are portrayed with faults and problems as the movie progresses.

While specific lessons and morals aren’t presented in Sendak’s book, Shank believes kids take from it what they want.

“It’s kind of left for you to derive the point, which makes it different from a lot of books,” Shank said.

The film’s additions and alterations to the children’s story may change how some people view the book, but there’s one thing portrayed in “Where the Wild Things Are” that will never change: There’s one in all of us.

Contact features correspondent Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected]