I enjoyed watching it, but only after it was over did I realize how much I like it. The kid who plays Max, the main character, did an incredible job. Much of his acting is done without dialogue, using mostly facial expressions. This is especially well done at the end of the movie.
Whereas most movies go for the happily-ever-after ending, this one goes more for a reality-ever-after ending, which made me appreciate it that much more. One of the “wild things” in the movie says something like, “Being in a family is hard.” That seems to be the main theme–something that is barely hinted at it in the book, but is richly explored in the movie. The film never gives the impression that being part of a family ever gets easier, only that it’s worth it to stick together no matter what, hard as it may be.
The ending is one of my favorite parts. After having a huge blowout with his mother and then going on a crazy adventure, Max is reunited with his mom. No words are spoken. They look at each other, share in a meaningful silence, and simply continue being a family.
While the characters, costumes, and general story line come straight from the book, a good portion of the movie seems to take place between a couple pages in the book. It’s almost like commentary to help us understand the book. The land that Max goes to operates on the level of a kid’s thinking. Since it’s easy for me to instantly transport myself back to the way I thought when I was eight (as I think most men probably can!), I really found myself relating to the society of the wild things.
The more I think about it, the more I like this movie. The subtlety is one of its greatest strengths. Definitely worth a second viewing.
After watching the movie, Carolyn and I read the book. It was then that I was really struck by how accurate the costumes (and CGI/animatronics) in the film are.