When the opportunity arose to see the film again, this time with a 10-year-old boy present, I jumped at the chance. But not without first warning him that the film was a bit more sedate than other kiddie films, to which he responded, “this is my movie, and I have no intention of falling asleep.” True enough, it was his film. He knew the names of the characters and voice actors all before setting foot in the cinema. He had researched the film, but he had never read the book. And, full disclosure, before viewing the film the first time, neither had I.
As the movie settled down from a wild rumpus to a study of child emotions and kid logic (who knew there was so much human drama where the wild things are?), I took a moment to glance around the theater. My young companion was riveted, and so were the teenagers and adults sitting behind us. I wondered, had all these adults (especially the ones without children) been touched by book as kids? Was it read to them, or did they discover it on their own? Had they yearned through the years to join Max in his sailboat, and live amongst the wild things? Or, were they too wooed by the moving trailer and perfect soundtrack?
I worried during the first viewing that I’d miss some profound message or deep connection that others carried away. But I found myself fighting tears at the end, and I’m happy to say that the second viewing has the same emotional impact. The kid? He was fine; in fact, he made fun of me a little for “welling up.” But still, as Gillian pointed out, this is not the kind of film one parks their kid in front of, à la Madagascar 2. Children might need some soothing afterward, or at least some quiet one-on-one time.
Do I recommend this film? Yes; it is wonderful and so is the cast. The young star, Max Records, is unbelievably good in every scene. Should you read the book before hand? Yes. Come on! It’s a classic and only ten lines long. The movie-going experience can only be enriched by reading the original.
I’d like to know, when and where did you first encounter Where the Wild Things Are?