Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

This isn’t so much a review of Where the Wild Things Are as a justification of a theory. The theory? That the film, Jonze’s third, is at its core a tale of the erosion of the notion of “home” from a child’s perspective. Max, its prepubescent protagonist, finds the tendrils of adulthood encroaching upon him. His sister sees him as a nuisance. His mother (Catherine Keener) loves him deeply, but her attention is diverted by her new lover (Mark Ruffalo). The concept of “home” as a place of unquestioning, unreserved welcome is beginning to crumble for Max.

This is mirrored in visual motifs of destruction throughout. We first find Max constructing an igloo in the snow. But when he retreats to it for sanctuary from older teenagers, it collapses under their weight, leaving him in tears. When Max first meets Carol (James Gandolfini), their friendship is forged through destruction of the makeshift huts that the wild things call home. As king, Max promises to rebuild a home – a fortress – where they can sleep in a “big pile.” It’s not long before reality intrudes, and community construction degrades into conflict. Max learns, as us “adults” know, that home isn’t home forever.

4.5 stars

11 thoughts on “Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

    • I liked it a lot more on the second viewing, knowing I was going to watch a film about childhood rather than a children’s film.

    • Thanks; I thought of writing more expanded thoughts on the film, but Jesse Thompson (who I’m writing a Jonze retrospective with at the moment at the 500 Club) wrote an extensive, excellent write-up which I’ll be linking shortly (along with my two pieces).

  1. Good review Dave. Haven’t seen this one in awhile, but I remember when I first saw it, I didn’t quite get it. However, I think that was sort of the point so I’ll definitely make sure to watch it in a couple of years and see what I think. Hopefully a lot better than what I initially thought.

  2. Pingback: Fantastic Facts About Fantasy Films

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