Where the Wild Things Are

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This is a guest review submitted by Ryan Hartley. Thanks Ryan!

“What do you do with the mad that you feel?
When you feel so mad you could bite.
When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right.”
– Fred Rogers

It’s okay for kids to have emotions.  They don’t know how to control them and there will be times when they get out of hand.  And while it’s a parent’s instinct to protect their child from harm, to protect them from their own emotions is a tragedy.

Contrary to its unofficial tag line of “It’s not a kids movie; it’s a movie about being a kid”, “Where The Wild Things Are” is a kids’ movie and it’s a movie about being a kid.  Those who say it’s too much for kids to handle can’t say, “It’s a movie about being a kid” since the film is about the emotions that kids feel every day.  Kids can get scared, they can get confused, but they can also identify with those emotions when they see them.

You can identify with these emotions too if you allow this film to tap into that sense memory of childhood; not through nostalgia or regression but remembering an innocence untarnished by irony, ego, cynicism, and all the baggage we take on as we mature.  But healthy maturity, bittersweet as it is, can not be forced nor restrained.  It must have the freedom to run wild and that means feeling a range of emotions including fear and sadness.

Rather than just take the plot of the children’s book and stuff it with filler, director Spike Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers understood the feelings and emotions author Maurice Sendak conveyed in his writing and illustrations.  Their understanding is what makes “Where the Wild Things Are” honest, courageous, heartfelt, and one of the best films of 2009.


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