Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let the wild rumpus start

Russell Moore took three of his sons to see the new movie of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. He was disappointed, not because the film was too scary for children but because it was too tame. In "Where the Wild Things Aren’t," he explains why the film isn't as good as the book:
From the time my sons were babies I’ve read to them the Maurice Sendack classic picture book. They love it, and so do I. They’d sit attentively through Goodnight Moon, but they’d squeal “Let the wild rumpus start!” whenever we’d journey with Max to the place of the wild things.

Children, it turns out, aren’t as naive about evil as we assume they are. Children of every culture, and in every place, seem to have a built-in craving for monsters and dragons and “wild things.” The Maurice Sendak book appeals to kids because it tells them something about what they intuitively know is true. The world around them is scary. There’s a wildness out there. ....

The Sendak book, with its muted words but fantastic drawings, achieves this sense of wonder and wildness. The movie doesn’t. That’s because the movie tames the wild things too much. It’s not that they’re too scary for children. It’s that they’re not believable as scary. The dialogue sounds like it was lifted from an old episode of Thirtysomething, as the beasts talk through their psychodramas and jealousies and interpersonal offenses with one another. Kids will be entertained because the special effects are good. But they won’t “get it” deep inside like they do the book. ....

Your kids might be bored by the Wild Things movie. They won’t be bored by the Wild Things book. .... [more]
Update 10/26: John Podhoretz at The Weekly Standard didn't care much for the film either:
The film version of Maurice Sendak’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are is wildly original and imaginative, arrestingly beautiful, and entirely heartfelt. It is also excruciatingly boring, an airless exploration of the consciousness of a little boy that compelled me to explore the inside of my eyelids on several occasions.
Moore to the Point by Russell D. Moore

1 comment:

  1. I just heard a report this morning that some parents are complaining that the movie is TOO scary. If they are concerned with exposing their kids to scary things, why would they take them to a movie about "Wild Things"?

    It's like the folks that took their kids to the R rated South Park movie, and then complained about inappropriate content.


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