Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy drama film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Jonze and Dave Eggers, it is adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It combines live-action, performers in costumes, animatronics, and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The film stars Max Records and features the voices of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O'Hara, and Chris Cooper. The film centers on a lonely eight-year-old boy named Max who sails away to an island inhabited by creatures known as the "Wild Things," who declare Max their king.
In the early 1980s, Disney considered adapting the film as a blend of traditionally animated characters and computer-generated environments, but development did not go past a test film to see how the animation hybridizing would result. In 2001, Universal Studios acquired rights to the book's adaptation and initially attempted to develop a computer-animated adaptation with Disney animator Eric Goldberg, but the CGI concept was replaced with a live-action one in 2003, and Goldberg was dropped for Spike Jonze. The film was co-produced by actor Tom Hanks through his production company Playtone and made with an estimated budget of $100 million. Where the Wild Things Are was a joint production between Australia, Germany, and the United States, and was filmed principally in Melbourne.
The film was released on October 16, 2009, in the United States, on December 3 in Australia, and on December 17 in Germany. The film was met with mostly positive reviews and appeared on many year-end top ten lists. However the film flopped commercially at the box office, making $100.1 million from a budget of $100 million. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 2, 2010.
The film begins with Max, a lonely eight-year-old boy with an active imagination whose parents are divorced, wearing a wolf costume and chasing his dog. His older sister, Claire, does nothing when her friends crush Max's snow fort (with him inside) during a snowball fight. Out of frustration, Max messes up her bedroom and destroys a frame that he had made for her. At school, Max's teacher teaches him and his classmates about the eventual death of the sun. Later on, his mother, Connie, invites her boyfriend Adrian to dinner. Max becomes upset with his mother for not coming to the fort he made in his room. He wears his wolf costume, acts like an animal, and demands to be fed. When his mother gets upset, he throws a tantrum and bites her on the shoulder. She yells at him and he runs away, scared by what has transpired. At the edge of a pond, Max finds a small boat that he boards.
The pond soon becomes an ocean. Max, still in his wolf suit, eventually reaches an island. There, he stumbles upon a group of seven large, monstrous creatures. One of them, Carol, is in the middle of a destructive tantrum (caused by the departure of a female Wild Thing named K.W.) while the others attempt to stop him. As Carol wreaks havoc Max tries to join in on the mayhem, but soon finds himself facing the suspicious anger of the Wild Things. When they contemplate eating him, Max convinces them that he is a king with magical powers capable of bringing harmony to the group. They crown him as their new king. Shortly after, K.W. returns and Max declares a wild rumpus, in which the Wild Things smash trees and tackle each other.
The Wild Things introduce themselves as Carol, Ira, Judith, Alexander, Douglas, the Bull, and K.W. Soon, they all end up piling on one another before going to sleep, with Max at the center. Carol takes Max on a tour of the island, showing him a model he built depicting what he wishes the island looked like. Inspired by this, Max orders the construction of an enormous fort, with Carol in charge of construction. When K.W. brings her two owl friends Bob and Terry to the fort, a disagreement ensues, as Carol feels they are outsiders (Max had said earlier that if any outsiders entered the fort, they would "have their brains automatically cut out"). To release their frustrations, Max divides the tribe into "good guys" and "bad guys" for a dirt clod fight, but Alexander is hurt during the game. After an argument between K.W. and Carol, K.W. leaves once again.
Max finds Alexander alone in the fort and has a conversation with him. Alexander reveals that he always suspected that Max is not a king with magical powers, but warns him to never let Carol know. Soon enough, at pre-dawn, Carol throws another tantrum — this time, about the fort, K.W.'s absence, and the eventual death of the sun (which Max had talked to Carol about earlier in the film). When Carol gets angry with Max for not doing a good job as a king, Douglas tries to explain to him that he's "just a boy, pretending to be a wolf, pretending to be a king", thus exposing the truth to the rest of the Wild Things. Carol becomes enraged and ends up ripping off Douglas's right arm (though only sand pours out of the wound). Then he chases Max into the forest and attempts to eat him. Max is saved by K.W., who hides him in her stomach. Max listens as Carol and K.W. have an argument over Carol's misbehavior. Max finds the crushed remains of Carol's model island (presumably destroyed by Carol himself in a rage) and leaves a token of affection for him to find (a letter C inside a love heart made of twigs). He finds Carol and tells him he is going home because he is not a king. The other Wild Things escort Max to his boat. Carol runs to join them after finding Max's token and arrives in time to see him off. He starts to howl and Max howls back, then all the other Wild Things join in. Carol looks at K.W. and she smiles kindly at him. Returning home, Max is embraced by his distraught mother, who gives him a bowl of hot soup, a piece of cake and a glass of milk and sits with him as he eats. He watches as she falls asleep.
- Max Records as Max, a lonely eight-year-old boy with a wild imagination.
- Catherine Keener as Connie, Max's mother.
- Mark Ruffalo as Adrian, Connie's boyfriend.
- Pepita Emmerichs as Claire, Max's sister.
- Steve Mouzakis as Max's teacher.
- Max Pfeifer, Madeleine Greaves, Joshua Jay, and Ryan Corr as Claire's friends.
- James Gandolfini as Carol, an impulsive Wild Thing.
- Lauren Ambrose as K.W., the loner of the group.
- Chris Cooper as Douglas, a cockatoo-like peace-keeper who is Carol's best friend.
- Forest Whitaker as Ira, a gentle, soft-spoken Wild Thing.
- Catherine O'Hara as Judith, a Triceratops-like horned Wild Thing, who is Ira's loud, aggressive girlfriend.
- Paul Dano as Alexander, a goat-like Wild Thing who is constantly ignored, belittled and mistreated.
- Michael Berry Jr. as Bernard the Bull, a quiet, intimidating bull-headed Wild Thing who keeps to himself and rarely speaks.
- Spike Jonze as Bob and Terry, two owls, and K.W's friends.
- Vincent Crowley as Carol
- Alice Parkinson as K.W.
- John Leary as Douglas
- Sam Longley as Ira
- Nick Farnell as Judith
- Sonny Gerasimowicz as Alexander
- Angus Sampson as Bernard the Bull
Release and reception
- ↑ "Where the Wild Things Are".. British Film Institute. Retrieved on January 26, 2015.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Where the Wild Things Are".. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009-11-14.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ "Spike Jonze goes 'Where the Wild Things Are' - CNN.com", CNN (2009-10-14).
- ↑ "Film Victoria - Where The Wild Things Are".. Retrieved on 23 March 2014.
- ↑ WBshop.com - The Official Online Store of Warner Bros. Studios Script error
- Where the Wild Things Are at AllMovie
- Where the Wild Things Are at Box Office Mojo
- Where the Wild Things Are at Rotten Tomatoes
- Where the Wild Things Are at Metacritic
- Murphy/, Mekado (2009-09-13). "Magical Mystery Tour", New York Times interactive feature'.
- "Jonze's Wild Things, A Splendidly Different Animal". (mp3). National Public Radio.