My thoughts on "Where The Wild Things Are"
#1
I saw Spike Jonze' "Where The Wild Things Are" this weekend. Many sites have warned families this is not a kids' film. On one level I have to agree. There were plenty of children in the audience and they were not as enthusiastic about the movie afterward as one might expect. But I'm not sure it was a mistake to take the kids to see it.

"Where The Wild Things Are" is a very different kind of movie. It probably should not have been hailed as a children's film by critics. I never really got the impression it was being promoted as a kids' film.

Max, the main character, is very much a child. But what I think most people missed was that the whole movie is about childhood -- a childhood that is out of control, lost in a rough sea of emotional turmoil. Max is struggling to cope with changes in his life that he doesn't understand.

The movie portrays Max's journey as something between reality and fantasy. It's not entirely clear, when he returns home, just how far away he has been or how long he has been away. The ambiguity is completely intentional and I think it works well.

Max retreats into a world of a troubled child's imagination. In doing so he discovers there are wild things that cannot be tamed or controlled, but if he is careful he can learn to live with them.

That is a very important lesson for children and I believe that parents who take their kids to see this movie should try to discuss its meaning with their children. The movie offers us a chance to visit some of those life lessons that parents are usually left to convey on their own.

In that respect the movie is a great conversational piece because it gives parents and children something to talk about, in a place where both parent and child are equal but not really equal.
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#2
How does James Gandolfini do, as the voice of the main beastie? He's a remarkably talented actor, but quite physical, with a very distinctive and high-pitched voice....
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#3
The voices all seem to fit the monsters very well. I remember when Robby Benson did the voice for "The Beast" in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", people were skeptical that it was really him. He got so fed up with one reporter he broke into the Beast's voice on camera and the reporter stepped back (in shock or amazement).

The voice characterizations were very, very good in my opinion.
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