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Movie Review: Jonze breathes life into a children’s classic

Samantha Sincock
Arts Editor/Editorial Director

A whimsical children’s story is brought to life as Spike Jonze dives into the imagination of a child with “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Who would have thought that a children’s book filled with nine sentences and 20 pages would become a major feature film? Jonze has proven to do just that. A story millions of children, and now adults know, tells of a strong-willed boy, sent to bed without supper, whose adventure begins when he encounters harsh looking, though gentle creatures, as his bedroom turns into a forest.

Through the art of puppetry and computer animation, the filmmakers have woven a world of imagination onto the screen and into the hearts of viewers. The first 10 to 25 minutes in the “real” world are perfectly portrayed, allowing the audience to have an acute understanding of a child’s world.

Max grabs at the toes of his mother’s tights to get her attention, gallivant in a wolf suit, and stomps snow all over his sister’s bed, without a hint of consciousness. He cries until his face burns up and becomes frustrated with the naivete of adults.

The wild things themselves are modeled right out of Maurice Sendak’s 1963 picture book. Neither resembling fish nor beasts, the wild things have real fur, scales, wings and horns. The film was delayed for a year in order to achieve all animatronic effects.

Sendak only hinted at what a wild thing would sound like. This is where Jonze and writer, Dave Eggers, devoted their time imaging sounds they presumed the creatures to make. Imagine a boisterous group of overgrown children on a rampage.

“Where the Wild Things Are” tilts away from the book’s projected younger viewers, and toward an older audience. But it seems the little ones can stay fairly intrigued by the film, that is, if they don’t scream at the sight of the wild things.

Jonze may not have recreated a complete magical tale filled with wonder and pixie dust, but he has hit a lot of points right with this short story. “Where the Wild Things Are” will move and take you away from the worries of the world. Put on the wolf suit with Max and become thrown into his mischief of the imagination.

Samantha Sincock can be reached at

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