Wild Things Too Scary?
Some people may think that the movie version of Maurice Sendak’s popular book Where the Wild Things Are is too scary for really young kids. For one thing, the book is for kids ages 4 to 8 years old, but is rated PG (parental guidance recommended). I saw a pre-release screening of the movie last week, and I don’t agree that it is too scary.
Nothing really tragic happens in either the book or the movie, and I think kids can handle a lot more than adults think they can. After all, I was in preschool when I saw Mufasa murdered in the G-rated movie The Lion King and I wasn’t scared at all. I was also pretty small when I saw the Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Remember when the Queen demands that a hunter kill Snow White and bring her heart back in a box? Pretty gruesome, huh? I love that movie and it is a children’s classic.
Where the Wild Things Are will also be a classic, although it is a much different experience than any other movie I have ever seen. Director Spike Jonze, told me he did not set out to make a children’s movie.
“I set out to make a movie about childhood,” he said.
I think he did both.
The task could not have been easy. Remember, this movie is based on a 48-page picture book of only about 300 words. The book focuses on Max’s wild behavior and feelings. You don’t get much of a back story in the book.
Jonze changes all that with the making of this movie. It would be interesting to see what kind of story Jonze would tell based on another popular children’s book of few words, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Maybe Jonze could answer some important questions about this famous ravenous slug. For instance, why is the caterpillar so hungry? Is he really hungry or is he just an emotional eater? Does the caterpillar feel unloved?
Certainly Max fells unloved, and I think Jonze did a great job of capturing the perspective of child internal turmoil. And in doing that, he has made a very moving and exceptional film.
—Mariam El Hasan
PHOTO: A scene from Where the Wild Things Are. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)