Where my Wild Thing Is.

Friday, October 16, 2009 | 0 Comment(s)

There are no spoilers in this post.  I know this because i haven't seen the "Wild Things" movie yet.  I should also say that I think its confusing that people are referring to this movie as "Wild Things" instead of "Where the Wild Things Are" because I keep half thinking that once Max sets sail in his boat built for one, he will come upon the shores where Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, and Denise Richards are having a threesome. 

All this said, ive been doing, lets say, an amount of thinking about this movie and here are my thoughts.

1.  I am prepared like a mouse trap to snap at the first review that says, "The adaptation from the book to the movie ruined the experience for me."  In general I find this to be almost always true.  But i just dont see how that can be true in this case.  For those of you who haven't read or reread (see how im incorporating my blog-title!) this children's classic, let me remind people that this book is just over 300 words.  Max's mom does not appear in the book, nor do any of the Wild Things have names or individual dialogue.  This book's greatness lies in its illustration and its ability to tap into the loneliness, rebellion, imagination, comfort, need for safety, anger, and joy that children feel, but don't necessarily have the vocabulary to express.  It's almost unquestionably a work of genius, but its lack of actual storyline makes it perfect for adaptation.  You can't really steal the original, because the original is a feeling (or a collection of feelings) more than it is a story in the traditional sense.  It should be added that Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of the original book (which was initially widely panned by critics until kids wouldn't stop checking the book out of libraries [remember libraries!!!]) has been totally on board with the movie's creation:

2.  I love when the present unlocks something that's happened in the past.  In this case I am flashing back to my senior year of college when the professor of one of my favorite classes (Karl Sheibe shout out) had our class write a note-card for each member of the 20 person class, with a word or phrase or whatever, that you felt captured the essence of that individual through your eyes.  I should mention that over the course of this class (official class name: A Dramaturgical Approach to Psychology) our class had bonded quite closely while discussing topics ranging from Jealousy, Body Image, Death, Love, Self-Confidence, etc.   These notecards (which i still keep in the drawer next to my chair) were intensely meaningful coming at the culmination of our semester together.  It was a strange experience to read aloud (which we all did) our peers interpretations of us.

Annnnnyways . . . long story short (long?), on the first of my cards (I still don't know who wrote what for the most part) I read aloud, (in all caps) "LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!" 
Laughter.  A lot of it.  I am . . . energetic, so this card leading off was incredibly apropos.  What I didn't realize, until today, 8 years later, is that my classmate was quoting from Wild Things.  And to be honest, I am touched and honored even more than that day.  Perhaps because it is harder and harder to be your wild thing as you grow older, or perhaps because underneath that person's statement of my exuberant nature was another compliment lying locked inside his/her message like an Easter Egg hiding in a DVD you've owned for years but just now discovered.  And i think he/she was saying that i was/am? tapped into my inner child.  At least I hope that's what was meant.  Hell, it doesn't really matter.  That's how I'm taking it.

3.  Lastly.  My one small disappointment going in.  One of my favorite parts of this book, since childhood, has been the red-haired Wild Thing's feet.  (I believe they call it Judith in the movie).  For whatever reason, in what I can only think was a fairly commonplace moment of Sendak genius, he gave this character webbed duck feet.  And i love it.  There is no reason for her to have them, but she does.  And no reason is the best reason of all.  Unfortunately it doesn't look like Judith gets her sweet kicks in the movie.  But rest assured, i will be mentally Photo-Shopping them in when the time comes.

Enjoy the imagination.

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