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Review

Children’s book marvels as film

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October 23, 2009

Nostalgia. Generally, it’s a word I don’t use too much, unless of course I’m speaking about a girl’s weekend that includes a midnight Disney marathon, a little celebrity gossip and some long overdue cookie baking.

Fortunately for you all, my Disney collection is still on VHS, Kanye managed restrain himself from interrupting another awards speech, and the baking that did take place was done in a mere half hour by my roommate and fellow columnist Laura Krawckyz. No, the nostalgia that finished out another week here in good old River Falls, did not come from any of my trivial guilty pleasures, but instead from a favorite childhood story of mine. While many of you will see this as the atypical weekend party life, I can assure you that when it came to my wild side, nothing was forgotten.

Of course, I am referring to Spike Jonze’s new on screen rendition of Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are.” A true literary work of art, “Where the Wild Things Are” is about a boy named Max who, after getting into trouble with his mother, sails away from his bedroom to a far, far away island where great monsters live and play. Once introduced and then pronounced king of the wild things, Max joins the monsters in a bit of the silly and wild life only to realize that it is at home with his mother where his heart has stayed. Though a slightly longer plot was installed to make the hourand- a-half feature (the book itself is only ten sentences long after all), the main lessons behind the theme of childhood disobedience still render clear and true.

With a cast of prominent names including James Gandolfini, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker, Catherine Keener and Mark Ruffalo, Jonze sets up a world filled with the comical and bittersweet, acknowledging a tough lesson that every child faces growing up: how to manage all our different feelings. The underlining of such a message is highlighted for the audience through newbie Max Records’ powerful performance as King Max, who not only displays Max as a curious and creative figure but also as a simple little boy who is trying to understand all the emotions that envelope him.

This, along with exquisite scenery and creative costuming bring the island and its inhabitants to vivacious and artistic life, allowing for even the oldest of moviegoers to reenter their childhood dreams. While fifty percent of the credit for the film must go to such aspects, it is without a doubt that the other fifty must be given to the musicians and artists who compiled the soundtrack. Creating each song to represent a different emotion Max faces, it is without lying that one can say the assistance of artists such as Katherine O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), The Liars, The Raconteurs, and Carter Burwell made the film what it was. Without such creative artistry, I’m certain our wild story would have been very drab indeed.

In short, this movie is one I would recommend not only for parents and children but also for anyone who has a heart for what the imagination can bring. What it brings back is truly invaluable: memories and a wild side you forgot you had.

Katie Heaton is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.