Saturday, March 28, 2009

Let the sucky rumpus start

As a kid I was no great fan of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are."  To me, it glorified Max (the protagonist) and his bad behavior.  Also, I thought it was silly because it was all about some jackass kid's imagination, and the last thing I wanted was to be seen as silly.  I'm not sure what was wrong with me; although I had as active a fantasy life as any other kid, I thought the imagination was just dumb.  I hated it when TV shows talked about how your imagination could take you to magical places and other such nonsense.  I loved watching Reading Rainbow but Geordi LaForge sure did like to talk about my imagination and how awesome it was.  Also, the theme song* and intro made me want to puke -- what kid wants to be Ben Franklin?  I mean, I loved reading about Ben Franklin, but it was totally beneath me to pretend to be him.  I wanted adults to treat me like an adult, but adults seemed to think the imagination was some wonderful thing only kids are posessed of.

Now that I'm over all that (Monty Python cured me of my hatred of the silly sometime around eighth grade) and have kids of my own, I really enjoy "Where the Wild Things Are."  It's a perfectly told story that gives us just a slice of a fully-realized yet tantalizingly hidden universe that only Max has access to.  Older Daughter loves the book.  Alia probably will too, if she doesn't tear it in half and cram it down our dog's throat.  (As of last night, she just roared through the whole book.)

Anyhoo, it turns out they've made "Where the Wild Things Are" into a movie.  This is a bad thing.  The preview is great and all -- I love the acoustic Arcade Fire song they used -- but WTWTA is like a 32-page book.  The world doesn't need a feature length movie about Max.  We don't need backstory.  We don't need CGI Wild Things.  We don't need to know more about the mysterious ocean voyage.  The Wild Things certainly don't need to be anthropomorphized and tamed.  We don't need subplots.  Just leave a good thing alone for once, dammit.

* I now recognize that the RR theme song is actually totally awesome.

UPDATE OF SORTS: Since writing this post (but before posting it), I have run into approving commentary from numerous friends about the WTWTA trailer.  There are a lot of impressive names behind the movie: Spike Jonze directing, Dave Eggers writing the screenplay (?!), and not the least, Maurice Sendak giving this blessing to the project.  Regardless, I remain skeptical.  Also, the Wild Things' movement looks cheesy and their faces are all wrong.


  1. There were two kindergarten classes at my school. Mrs. Haus' class, and Mrs. Steelhammer's class. Mrs. Steelhammer's class had all the kids with snot bubbles hanging out of their noses who grew up to be teen mothers and motocross fanatics. They called her Miss Judy instead of Steelhammer (Steel-ham-mer... so many syllables!). Miss Judy loved to read her kids "Where the Wild Things Are."
    My brother and I were in Mrs. Haus' class.

  2. i think this movie looks like it could potentially be like our beloved dark 80's childhood movies (Labyrinth, Dark Crystal). it doesn't appear to me to be directed at kids who are under the age of say... 9. just my opinion anyway.

  3. It's cool that Maurice Sendak has signed off on the film, but that means little, because your perceptions and notions about the book can never be matched by a film. Douglas Adams was very involved in the HGTTG movie before his passing, and it was good, but it can never live up to the images I see in my mind of Arthur, Marvin, and Ford.

    Or the BBC mini-series from the 80's.

    And just look at anything Alan Moore has ever done. He was okay with "From Hell", and it was decent. Since then, he's never been involved, and League and V were straight up awful, and Watchmen was pretty darn ok. And Dave Eggers is a great writer. Heartbreaking Work is amazing, but I did not care for "You Shall Know Our Velocity."

    All this is to say that the sum of the parts sometimes comes out to be less than we might expect.

    I'll probably see it anyway so that if it sucks I can bitch about it, and if it's awesome explain to people why I was right all along that it would be.

  4. I could barely remember the story when I saw the trailer, but it really worked for me. I think it's one of the best trailers I've seen in a long time. The names of the filmmakers give me hope for the film. After seeing the trailer, the next day I went to a bookstore and re-read the book. I agree that it's a really well-done, tight story. But as I'm not that attached to the story, I'm fine with some of the changes they've made that are already apparent.

    I remember seeing Orson Scott Card talk about the ever-in-development film of Ender's Game. He said he had to remove some of the characters from the book for the film script. There was a gasp in the audience and he responded, "It's OK -- they're still in the book. The book will still exist."