Monday, October 19, 2009

Once (More) Upon a Time...

I already posted about Where the Wild Things Are here so I'll try and keep this as short as I can. The movie was not really what I expected, but I don't think that was such a bad thing. Spike Jonze (Adaptation and the newly released short film starring Kanye West that goes from annoying to very strange in about 10 minutes, We Were Once A Fairy Tale) definitely made a darker and more adult adaptation of the book than I expected. But it is also oddly hypnotizing. You can definitely find yourself lost in the beauty of the film's scenery and cinematography at various times throughout the film. And don't be surprised if you sort of start to watch the movie as if you were looking out through Max's (played by youngster Max Records) eyes. The majority of the story does, after all, take place in Max's imagination.

Like I said, Spike Jonze's version of the book is a little bit different than what I would have written. One of the subplots (involving a couple of random white owls) could particularly have been left out of the movie. But, ultimately, Jonze does an admirable job of a very difficult task -- creating a 90+ minute movie based on a 10 sentence story. He gives the beasts names and different personalities (each very different and representative of the different parts of Max's psyche). He creates a relatively simple story revolving around Max convincing the wild things that he is an all-powerful king and his failed attempts to make them happy. And, for all the simplicity of the movie, Jonze still manages to create a story full of emotions that is capable of reaching audience members of all ages.

Among the film's stars, a couple of performances jumped out at me. James Galdolfini is the voice for the "main" wild thing (or at least the one that plays the biggest part in the movie), Carol, representing the much more impulsive and violent of the beasts, and there really could not have been a better choice for the role. But I think the best voice work of the movie came from Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) as KW, the more motherly and caring of the beasts. She ultimately comes to be Max's protector during the movie's climax, and her voice really does have a soothing quality to it that would make almost anyone feel safe when hearing it.

Last, Karen O and the Kids deserve some recognition for the wonderful original soundtrack they created for this movie. It fits beautifully with the movie and is probably the best that I can remember since Eddie Veder's masterpiece from Into the Wild. Anyway, check it out here.

Bottom line: Don't go expecting a little kid's story. The movie is emotionally charged and both visually and audially beautiful. But you might be a little disappointed with the simplicity of the story itself. I'd still say it's worth seeing. (B-)

Here's the preview again:

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