23 December 2009

Wild Thing

At last, our long, national nightmare is over. At least, the one going on inside my own home. After foisting the wee one off on his grandparents, my wife and I were able to go see a movie. In the theater. Sure, it might not sound that novel, but for relatively new parents, trust me, it is. And it was long overdue.

In my estimation.

The movie in question was quite possibly my most anticipated film of 2009. If not 2008. And 2007. I'm not sure when I first heard that Spike Jonze was directing a feature version of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, but it was definitely several years ago. It has been, in fact, seven whole years since Jonze's last film, Adaptation. Wild Things marks only his third film in a decade. Which is hard to believe, seeing as how he is such a singular visionary who has had a tremendous impact on the cinematic landscape. For me, anyway.

So, where do I begin? Well, honestly, everything about this film is awesome, from the fact that Jonze collaborated on the script with Dave Eggers to having Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs write original songs. Even the Arcade Fire music in the trailer sets a perfect tone for this beautiful, melancholic work. To me, what's truly magical about the film is that while it's a complete fantasy, it also manages to be the most raw, honest, and emotional film about what it actually feels like to be a child that I've ever seen. Yes, the film is full of melancholy and yet this does feel appropriate. Sometimes it sucks being a kid. And this is that rare piece of art that captures that feeling, those sentiments, perfectly.

And while it's not, strictly speaking, a kid's movie, I cannot wait to share it with my son. Every time I see the book in stores I want to get it, though I'm not sure at what age it would be optimal to introduce him to this story. This was one of my most checked-out library books as a kid, but I don't recall exactly when I first read it. The same goes for the film. In many ways, I feel I appreciate it more as an adult than I would have as a kid. Being a meditation on childhood more than anything else, it does kinda help to be able to reflect on your own childhood through this film, rather than being in the midst of it as you watch. That being said, I'm still excited about that first viewing with my son.

Between this and Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox (don't get me started--that's an entire post in itself) and Up, 2009 has proven itself to be a truly landmark year for kid-centric movies. I hope this trend continues as these are exactly the types of films I want to expose my son to. Now, if I could only get someone to make a screen version of Dooly and the Snortsnoot, then we'd be all set.

In the meantime, before my son is fully indoctrinated to the world of Wild Things, the book and film, we have decked him out in a stylish Wild Things T-shirt. Because it's true--there is a wild thing in all of us. Sometimes we grow up and we forgot that. But thanks to this amazing film, it's something I won't soon forget. And I hope my son won't either.

Let the wild rumpus start . . .

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