We are moving into phase four of Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. First came the long production marred by arguments, reshoots, anticipation and hinted at disagreements between filmmaker and studio. Next came acceptance and increased anticipation as the movie blog world embraced the film sight-unseen and Warner Bros. built their release around the anticipation. The trailers captured audience interest and while with luke warm to celebratory reviews, audiences turned out to the tune of $32.6 million on opening weekend, making for a successful phase three.
However, here we are at phase four. The week after Where the Wild Things Are was crowned the box-office champ and word-of-mouth begins to spread. Some would say it’s already spread after earning $12+ million on Friday and Saturday only to walk away with a mere $8 million on Sunday. With a price tag of $100 million one would have to assume we are still looking at DVD and Blu-ray releases before the film turns any kind of a profit, but let’s push the business dealings aside and discuss the film for a second.
Peter Galvin at Twitch opened his review with one of the more to-the-point statements I have read with regards to the film. It’s honest and cuts to the chase in the first three sentences:
Did you have a happy and secure childhood? Good for you! Spike Jonze’s movie is for the rest of us, the little lonely kids who battle anger and despair and depression without ever quite knowing how to deal with those feelings in an “appropriate” manner. Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t traffic in cheery imagery or indulge in superficially uplifting narrative twists. Instead, it exudes a calming spirit of acceptance, acknowledging the darker side of childhood and positing no easy answers to the meaning of life.
Now doesn’t that just paint a picture of a film you want to see? While it is rather devoid of cheerfulness when discussing what is presumed to be a children’s film I think it takes this certain kind of introspection to discuss this film on any terms of greatness, because I think that is where the film is going to connect to those that truly love it.
I can understand the comments many have made as to tearing up in the film’s final moments, even though I would hope people were crying because Max is leaving the Wild Things in absolute shambles as opposed to the sadness related to his leaving them and KW’s final statement, “Don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.” However, tearing up is one thing, but does the fact a film made you cry make it great? How about the caveat presented in Peter’s review above? Can a film speaking to a specific audience truly be considered great if those of us on the other side just don’t see what the fuss is all about?
Then again, how much of a fuss will actually be made when it comes to general audiences? CNN just posted an article headlined “Parents upset, bored by ‘Where the Wild Things Are’” which doesn’t exactly bode well for week two turn out. James Griffioen of Detroit, Michigan is quoted saying, “It was joyless. There were maybe 15 minutes of the hour and a half that my kids were into it.”
Then there’s this exchanged shared by Devon Adams in Chandler, Arizona:
For Devon Adams in Chandler, Arizona, the problem wasn’t keeping his 5-year-old daughter, Claire, interested — it was dealing with the aftermath of the violent scenes.
“She and her friend seemed to enjoy the film, but when she returned home, she threw her own tantrum, bit her mother very hard (something she does not do), and told her she was going to run away from home and go to where the wild things are,” Adams said.
Adams, a high school English teacher who considers himself to be a big “Wild Things” fan, expected “a story about a boy throwing a tantrum and being sent to his room without dinner, [imagining] going away to a far off land where he feels important, and eventually realizes that he misses his family and returns home.”
In his view, what he got was radically different.
“I did not expect a film that promotes a weak parent figure who fails to seem to be concerned for her children, a main character who truly seems to need a therapist and a ‘Wild Thing’ that throws temper tantrums by destroying private property and physically abusing others,” Adams said.
Laremy and I discuss all of this and then some in our latest audio commentary which you can listen to directly below or click here to download directly. For more of my opinion on the film you can read my review right here.
Have a movie related question you think would be a good topic for an upcoming audio commentary? Let us know in the comments below!