CATEGORIES Reviews, Fall Movies
The long-awaited big-screen adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic 1963 children's book 'Where the Wild Things Are' finally gets it due in the hands of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers. The book -- just nine sentences long and only 20 pages -- tells the story of rambunctious little Max who's sent to bed without dinner and is magically transported to a forest, where he finds a boat and sails to a place inhabited by giant, hairy, fearsome-looking but gentle beasts. The main challenge in making the film was how to flesh out of the story for modern moviegoers. The result has received positive-to-mixed reviews. Check out a sampling after the jump. The long-awaited big-screen adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic 1963 children's book 'Where the Wild Things Are' finally gets it due in the hands of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers. The book -- just nine sentences long and only 20 pages -- tells the story of rambunctious little Max who's sent to bed without dinner and is magically transported to a forest, where he finds a boat and sails to a place inhabited by giant, hairy, fearsome-looking but gentle beasts. The main challenge in making the film was how to flesh out of the story for modern moviegoers. The result has received positive-to-mixed reviews. Here's a sampling.

Roger Ebert: "Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers have met the challenge of this little masterpiece head on, by including both a real little boy and the imaginary Wild Things in the same film. The film will play better for older audiences remembering a much-loved book from childhood, and not as well with kids who have been trained on slam-bam action animation."

USA Today: "Purist fans of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book will have to set aside expectations to fully embrace the film version. But they should embrace it. 'Where the Wild Things Are' is a fiercely innovative film with surprising texture and nuance. It captures the joy and exuberance of childhood without shying away from its very real pains and woes."

New York Times: "Max, played by the newcomer Max Records, is the pivotal character in this intensely original and haunting movie, though by far the most important figure here proves to be Mr. Jonze. Mr. Jonze's filmmaking exceeds anything he's done in either of his inventive previous features, 'Being John Malkovich' (1999) and 'Adaptation' (2002). With 'Where the Wild Things Are' he has made a work of art that stands up to its source and, in some instances, surpasses it."


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The Hollywood Reporter: "The film does surmount one of its two difficult challenges: Through puppetry and computer animation, the filmmaking teams have successfully put a world of childhood imagination on the screen. Where the film falters is Jonze and novelist Dave Eggers' adaptation, which fails to invest this world with strong emotions."

New York Post: "Some very good books were just never meant to be turned into movies. Sadly, you can now add Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic 'Where the Wild Things Are' to that list. The creatures are less Sendak's Wild Things than totally unscary Mild Things. They sound very much like a commune of kvetchy old hippies who argue endlessly among themselves while committing random acts of childish pique."

L.A. Times: "In the new film version of Sendak's classic, more -- admired director Spike Jonze, smart co-screenwriter Dave Eggers, top-flight actors including Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini and Forest Whitaker, and a budget estimated at $80 million to $100 million -- has paradoxically become less: a precious, self-indulgent cinematic fable that not everyone is going to love."

Time Magazine: "The beauty of 'Where the Wild Things Are' is that for all its fantastical elements, it's a work of realism, an exploration of mood and emotion. Like Sendak's book, which on initial publication was considered too edgy and creepy by some critics and libraries, the movie is dark, but it is perhaps even more richly cathartic."

Variety: "Fleet of foot, emotionally attuned to its subject and instinctively faithful to its celebrated source, 'Where the Wild Things Are' earns a lot of points for its hand-crafted look and unhomogenized, dare-one-say organic rendering of unrestrained youthful imagination. But director Spike Jonze's sharp instincts and vibrant visual style can't quite compensate for the lack of narrative eventfulness that increasingly bogs down this bright-minded picture."

Entertainment Weekly: "Sendak's great gift to readers, old as well as young, is the seriousness with which he presents even the wildest mayhem, the deepest contradictions in human (and Wild Thing) behavior; the author empathizes with fantasists but has no time for cuteness. In his transcendent movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze not only respects the original text but also honors movie lovers with the same clarity of vision. This is one of the year's best."