Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where the Wild Things are

In short...biggest disappointment ever. Or of the year at the very least. Let me get this clear: I liked it, but I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. I think my problem was with character development. Even ten minutes in, I realized how hard it was for me to love Max and I just wasn't "feeling it". And maybe it's because I had had a rough day last Friday and my mind was elsewhere, I'm really not sure. I felt that the characters weren't very well fleshed out, so I couldn't bring myself to care very much for them, even after spending almost two hours with them.

That being said, it is a very beautiful movie. The scenery is gorgeous, the costumes are perfect (I'm fully expecting them to win the "Best costume" Oscar), and the "Wild Things" world felt real to me. It's just character that was an issue for me. And a lot of people I've talked to who have seen this movie have loved it, so Kirk and I are probably in the minority, but that's okay.

I think my big problem is that I hyped it up too much. I went in expecting it to be one of the best theatre experiences of my life, so of course I was going to be disappointed. I had this discussion with Jeremy once, about how if you have high expectations for a film, you are going to be disappointed. But if you go in expecting to hate it, then it feels better when you are pleasantly surprised. Since the trailer for Where the Wild Things are was among the better trailers I've ever seen, of course my expectations were high. Whereas a few years ago a friend dragged me to Beerfest, and I went in fully expecting to hate it, because I'd hated Super Troopers. But I loved it, and I think part of it was the fact that I was so pleasantly surprised.

So the big lesson? Try to keep expectations in check. No movie can be everything you want it to be, and going in expecting it to be is going to set you up for disappointment. I have learned that a few times in the past two years with films I've put on a pedestal (such as Watchmen, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Neither were as good as I'd hoped, though I still enjoyed them. Disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow, but I think this time the lesson has sunk in.

I think I'd probably give Where the Wild Things are a 6/10. I think people should go see it for sure, especially on the big screen, but it's not worthy of raves from me. I do want to see it again, probably on DVD, to see whether it was just my mental state that affected my enjoyment of it.


  1. It's tough to turn what is essentially a paragraph worth of story text into a two-hour film without going places your loyal readers mightn't want you to go.

    I think part of the reason the Harry Potter movies have been so successful is that they've been so faithful to the books; here, the book is a theme, essentially, for an entirely new story.

    I love that book (loved it as a child, and love reading it to my daughter now -- for her part, she loves yelling "I'LL EAT YOU UP!!"); I was still deciding whether I wanted to even risk the movie. Given your thoughtful review above, I think I'm gonna skip it.

  2. I agree. Harry Potter offers a lot more material to adapt, so the screenwriters can be faithful, and take even the dialogue from the books. Here they had to create personalities, and flesh out a story from such a small book. However, it was much better than "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", that was a childhood favourite of mine that was destroyed on-screen.

  3. Beerfest would be a great double feature with Strange Brew.

  4. I am definitely going to have to do that one of these nights. Maybe hold a "theme night".

  5. Your post reminded me of one of my movie disappointments. I had the same experience as you did with the whole "loving the character" thing when it came to, and I dare say it, Twilight.

    I KNOW THE BOOKS ARE NOT THAT GREAT haha, but I love Meyer's idea of a vampire falling in love with a mortal whose blood is irresistable to him. Should I eat her, or kiss her? Cool stuff. Anyway, the first book wasnt that bad, so I was pretty pumped to check out the movie,

    which was a big huge awkward moment.

    I could not STAND Bella! They portrayed her as such a snob (me being nice!). There was a scene where she goes shopping with the girls from Forks, and just stares out a window, dreaming of Edward, the entire time. In fact, that is pretty much all she did.

    Even in the later books, I kept waiting for some "girl power" and independence that just never came.

    Anyway, after a few interactions with them, I couldn't understand why they liked her. Totally OBSESSED with Edward; it was a little creepy, and it was difficult to like them as a couple.

    Big head shake. Not wasting my money on the second one (even though it has Dakota Fanning in it and ILOVEHERTOPIECES). But if you go see it and think it's worthwhile, let me know. haha

    Great post Jenn!

  6. I was forced to read the first Twilight book and didn't like it at all. Forced to see the movie and I thought it was kind of a joke. :\ May go see the second, just in an ironic sense...I won't enjoy it on any level other than a "this must be a joke" level, so you may not get much out of my opinion. :D

  7. The moral is to lower your expectations for life as a whole, and live as a shell of a woman. That's what I do.

    Well, realistically, I just keep thinking about how incredibly abstract the movie 'probably' is, considering I have not seen it yet. Thanks for not including any "spoilers"... If that's possible at all.

    Since it is indeed a paragraph of text, I have no real expectation for how the characters should behave, and I've come to terms with the changing of the Wild Things' names and that Max's mother seeing someone is apparently upsetting to Max (from what I assertained from the trailer). It's recieved some sort of "contemporary" update I suppose; David Eggers will undoubtedly make me sad with his writing choice at some point. But what I really want is to simply enjoy myself imagining, if only for an hour, that I too can go Where The Wild Things Are, and gnash my terrible teeth.

    Nothing more!

    Also- I love Aaron, the big monster with the horn on his nose. He better be excellent.

  8. I made sure not to put any spoilers in for you and Nancy 'cause I knew you weren't able to see it right away. :) My expectations really were sky high, and I'm getting over my bitter disappointment since it has been a few weeks. Let me know what you think when you guys see it!