as a child the picture book by maurice sendak frightened me a lot and as a family, we didn't really like it. as an adult and a bookseller i've really come to appreciate it - even though i find the bit that reads "the night max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind (then you turn the page) and another" a bit jarring. and i think the film took the essence of the book and created something more, something really special.
the screenplay, written by spike jonze and dave eggers together was the basis for dave eggers' novel the wild things. it follows the plot of the film for the most part, but with some segues and diversions - all welcome. in the first few pages of the book max rides his bike over to his friends' house a couple of streets away and he goes by himself and i think helmetless. the mother of his friend, when he arrives, is shocked and agitated to the point of almost hysteria at the thought of max riding home again alone. she wants to accompany him back, but he rides off. she runs after him. this scares max and he rides faster - his confusion and fear were marvellously written and it was a brilliant start to the book. i was there, i was max, while reading it.
older children will enjoy this book for its fun and adventure, they might even feel the same way i did. but i think it is the grown-ups who with benefit most! without being cloying, it reminds the reader of being a child - the way children percieve the world and how something that adults accept without question can really frighten kids. in the book, and the film, when max's teacher tells the class that one day the sun with die, and with it take the earth and other planets with it - sets max to thinking and thinking hard. an adult might dismiss this, for some reason need no further explanation or reassurance that it won't happen tomorrow, or to me.
at the cinema: the wild things were magnificent! apparently they had to CGI their faces for the eyes and some expression, but the fact that they were giant puppet-esque/people in wild-thing-suits gave them a quality and realness that has been lacking from movies for a while. it sort of reminded me of classics like the neverending story, or the labyrinth. but the wild things were even better than the weird creatures in those films! other things i loved about the film: the fort they build (anyone seen the book natural architecture by alessandro rocca - wow! and maybe the inspiration?)
the movie's soundtrack by karen o and the kids is also fantastic. i've been listening to it on repeat for a couple of weeks now. it was perfect for the film, creating atmosphere, fun and rumpus! highlights of the album: capsize and worried shoes.
basically i give all wild things two thumbs up.