When I first saw the preview for the new Spike Jonze movie version of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, I squirmed in my seat with excitement. I couldn't wait to see how Jonze reimagined Sendak's classic book. When I finally saw the film, my response was a mixed bag. While I appreciated the beauty of the film and the fact that it accurately presented some of the difficulties and pain of childhood, I didn't seem to emotionally connect to it. Jonze collaborated with Dave Eggers on the screenplay so I was interested to see how Eggers fleshed out the story in his book THE WILD THINGS. The fact that I saw the movie first may have colored my impressions of Eggers' book. He didn't add much to what I had already seen on the big screen.
Max is a troubled 10-year-old boy with a single divorced mother and anolder sister who is starting to drift away as she concerns herself with "grown up" things. Max feels lost and alone and confused by all the emotions running through him. After a confrontation with his mother, Max runs away and take a boat to the island of the Wild Things where he becomes their king. But he learns that being a king isn't everything he thought it would be.
The Wild Things represent different side to Max's personality and, perhaps, of those of the people in his life. It is surpising how menacing and frightening these creatures can be. They are not the whimsical creatures of Sendak's book. This is both a good and bad thing. Eggers does a great job demonstrating the complexities of childhood and all the confusing feelings that come with it. However, it left me feeling disconnected and impatient. I never really felt engaged by the book or the movie.
BOTTOM LINE: Not recommended. See the movie instead. At least there you will get the beauty of the visuals. The book is simply a watered down version of the film.