It is no secret that my family are huge fans of children’s literature. These books are routinely exchanged as gifts, still read aloud at family functions, and discussed around the dinner table.
We are correspondingly skeptical of film adaptations of our beloved books. So I was cautiously optimistic as I approached the new Where the Wild Things Are film.
The book is now nearly a half-century old. It contains just 10 sentences and glorious illustrations. A tough battle for a screenwriter.
To be fair, the film took some liberties. For example, I was not expecting the Wild Things to speak. I’m not sure why. In the book, it seemed like Max understood them simply because they were both “wild”. Language wasn’t necessary. But, it’s hard to make a silent movie popular these days, so the Wild Things had voices. I will allow it.
I was also not expecting the film to handle issues deeper than the surface of the book. But here, I was pleasantly surprised. It is subtle, but throughout the film, the characters grapple with the idea of fatherlessness, broken homes, and ones we love leaving us. I was struck again, by the film’s treatment of the subject, how impactful fathers are in the lives of young boys. Boys are supposed to be wild. They need men to encourage them in this in healthy, productive way; not stifling it and creating a society of empty, well-behaved men.
Go see the film with thoughtful people. Go to a coffee shop afterwards and talk honestly about your impressions of the film. Then, call me and tell me about them.
I would also recommend this article by RELEVANT magazine. It’s a thoughtful review of some of the more nuanced themes in the book.