Me: I really wanted to like this movie as a grown-up movie. I never read the book when I was a kid, but got it and read it a bunch of times for Molly. It is only something like eleven sentences in the book, though the illustrations are very metaphoric and storytelling beyond the few sentences. Visually, the movie was great, even if the monsters ultimately looked like Sweet 'Ums from the Muppet Show with CGI face for expression. The book actually shows part of childhood. Max in the book, mimics his mother by telling the monsters that they had to go to be without supper after he was told the same thing.This is something that children go through as they act out punishments given to them to their toys, siblings, etc to understand them better by playing out the authority role. Max in the movie does not quite do this, so there is no working out the situation like there was in the book. Instead, each of the monsters represents a part of his personality (Carol is his wild side, Judith his jealousy, Alexander is his feelings that no one notices or listens to him) and some represent situations he is going through (KW is his sister who is outgrowing him and hanging out with friends that he cannot understand).
So the story is about that time when much of the world is outgrowing the child as friends and siblings get different interests, leaving the child feeling abandoned. This is furthered as he cannot fully grasp the ideas behind the science that he learns in school about things such as the Sun eventually dying. Instead of acting out the roles in the book, the movie has Max able to witness parallel actions from the monsters. Carol overreacts to getting hurt from play and it pushes KW (Max's sister) away as it further illustrates the distance between their age and maturity. Carol's reaction is to go and destroy things (as Max did to his sister's room).
The problem that I have is that things are not really resolved. I don't need Hollywood endings that tie up everything in a nice, neat bow, but Max left the island with little seeming resolved in him or the monsters. In the end, Carol finds a heart with the letter "C" in it made from sticks in the ruins of the stuff he destroyed earlier. This is, I suppose, Max trying to play the role of his sister and trying to reach out and show that there is still love there, like he wants his sister to do.
But where the movie falls flattest for me is when Max returns home, there is no resolution with his sister. His mother is there and their ending is fine. But for a movie that dealt so much with the feelings of the sister outgrowing him and resolving so much about the sister, nothing was given upon Max's return. That was just... odd.
I wanted to like the movie a lot more and it almost hit some of the marks, but ultimately it fell flat for me. The direction of the movie was really excellent though, but ultimately it did not put enough fulfillment of the ideas and stories in it to satisfy me.
Molly: (I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. Her review will be given in Q&A form, primarily due to her age. And this is a real transcript of our conversation. She's anxious to do this and is waiting by my computer. I'll format it afterward.)
Chuckie: Molly, what did you think of the Where The Wild Things Are movie?
Molly: Um. Let the wild rumpus start!
Chuckie: Well, did you like the movie?
Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Let the rumpus start! That part. Daddy, I found Utini's necklace.
Chuckie: Okay, we'll put that on later.
Molly: Daddy, I really need to go potty.
Chuckie: Okay, go. Come back when you are done. Don't forget to flush.
Chuckie: Pixie, did you think that Wild Things was a good movie?
Molly: Yeah. It was funny.
Chuckie: What was funny?
Molly: Quoting in a "monster voice". "I'm going to eat you!" That was funny.
Chuckie: What else do you have to say about the movie?
Molly: Um. I liked the movie. Max is my friend.
Chuckie: How many stars would you give the movie?
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Um. One, two, three, four, five. Runs out of fingers.
Chuckie: Do you think people should see the movie?
Molly: Mm-hm. I want to.
So there you have it. Despite recommending that people see the movie, Molly gives it one out of five stars. She's a harsher critic than I thought, but still generous at the box office.
This was fun. I look forward to reviewing more things with Molly.
Oh, the above contained spoilers. You probably shouldn't have read it if you wanted to avoid them.