I was initially skeptical about Where the Wild Things Are. I am apparently part of .002% of the population who did not love! adore! oh-my-god-it-was-soooooooo-special! the picture book on which the film is based. I mean, people. It's a picture book. Like, how amazing can it actually be? Going crazy over a picture book strikes me as kind of like going crazy over a piece of chocolate. It could very well be one of the best pieces of chocolate you'll ever have, but it's so small, in the scheme of things. However, I am fully aware that 99.998% of the population does not feel the way I do about Where the Wild Things Are, because I worked at Borders. So I know. Perhaps the only picture book talked about with more fervent reminiscence is Goodnight, Moon. Which, um, I don't really get that obsession either. The way some people talk about these books, it's enough to make you wonder if they've read anything else since, or if they just stopped reading at the picture books level and thought that's all there was.
Anyway, so I was skeptical. Then I read a bunch of articles and reviews in EW and stuff and came around to the idea that it was actually, apparently, a great movie. So it made my to-see list. However, it did not make the top of my list, and so we just got around to seeing it last night, at the $3.99 cinema. As awards season has started, Where the Wild Things Are has remained on my radar, earning nominations mostly for its music but also making a critic or two's Top 10 of 2009 lists, and even one best of the decade mention. I know, wow!
Well, guess what? It's REALLY good. As A.O. Scott says in that decade's best review, rarely has a film so exquisitely mixed realism and fantasy, and so honestly captured both childhood and humanity in general. Hie thee to your local cheap-o theater where you can still catch it, or at the very least add it to your Netflix queue. It is truly inventive, and I would say quietly revolutionary. Spike Jonze should absolutely get a nomination for Best Directing. Honestly, the visionary way he crafted this film pretty much defines what exemplary directing is. Where the Wild Things Are is fantastic -- and not because it is based on the picture book.
And this is still awesome!