First of all, this one is VERY different from the other WILD THINGS movies, and with virtually no nudity. But easily one of the best of the series. Second, I don’t usually go around reviewing movies made for kids, and I got a reputation to uphold and what not. But this is a movie of ferocious artistic purity. Whether you like it or not you’d have to be a numbnuts not to recognize it as a unique achievement.
This is the movie Spike Jonze has been working on for years, based on the famous Maurice Sendak picture book. You probly read about how Sendak asked him to do it, at first he turned it down, then he thought of an idea for it, they started making it, one studio dropped them, they moved to a different studio, continued making it, that studio freaked out when they started snooping around and found out there was no farting or Smash Mouth songs in it. Rumors circulated that they were gonna fire Jonze and start over or redo some of his scenes with CGI or who knows what. But he kept on going and they must’ve either got distracted by something on TV or decided he knew what he was doing. Somehow he got to the end and looked down and in his hands he was holding the movie he set out to make at the beginning. Except transferred into Imax. Nobody knows how it got there.
Mr. Jonze deserves a Congressional Medal of Freedom for pulling this shit off. In a genre where movies are always shaped around Happy Meal and doll tie-ins I swear he’s made a movie without a single commercial compromise or concession to Hollywood formula. He’s not trying to bullshit you or your kids, he’s tapping straight into a kid mentality, which doesn’t mean poop jokes and Hannah Montana references, it’s more primal. At times in this movie I felt like it was making me regress to being a little kid, remembering the simple joy of throwing things, breaking things, building things, making up stories, and also the feeling of being hurt by small things like mom or big sister won’t pay attention to you exactly when you want, so you go hide in your room and feel sorry for yourself. Max has those feelings and then Carol, a wild thing portrayed brilliantly by the voice of James Gandolfini, amplifies them to giant size. He represents the needy side of a kid, the one that feels sorry for himself and gets angry too easily (which leads to the much hyped make-kids-cry part of the movie when he briefly chases Max claiming he’s gonna “eat him up.” But don’t worry kids, he’s full of shit. He’s got no follow through on shit like that.) Carol is a character like I’ve never seen before – a monster who’s only scary because he’s so emotionally fragile you gotta walk on egg shells around him. They should try that in a Godzilla movie some time.
All of the wild things seem to represent different sides of Max’s feelings or things in his life. For example there’s a little goat who thinks nobody listens to him or pays him enough attention, and a girl named K.W. who everybody thinks is cool and wants to impress (like he feels about his older sister). They’re basically huge, hairy kids building forts and getting confused about things. They even have snotty noses. Max (both the character and the kid who plays him, Max Records) seems like a smart and imaginative kid, but not in some phony HOME ALONE way where he has clever quips and talks like an adult. No, he talks like a kid. His stories and games don’t make alot of sense, and involve lots of force fields and lava and shit. Very authentic.
I can’t imagine anybody else in the world would’ve done a “Where the Wild Things Are” movie and approached it remotely similar. Even a good director. Most people see a drawing of monsters they’re gonna go the heavy handed art director route, create a stylized environment for them to live in, show offy camera moves and a Danny Elfman soundtrack. Jonze did none of those things. Most of it is filmed handheld on location in Australia, just fields, sand dunes, woods and stuff.
In order to avoid that “how do you act when there’s not a real dinosaur chasing you?” question at junkets they built giant suits of the wild things. Only the faces are (flawlessly) digital, and I didn’t even really think about them being special effects. Of course doing it that way looks more real, but more importantly it helps the acting. It’s a real kid running around playing with the things in person, not faking it. And it seems more dangerous, because they’re so big, they seem like they could accidentally crush him.
So that’s what the movie is, and I think it should also be mentioned what it isn’t. Sendak fuckin lucked out, man. He pulled it off. I’m pretty sure I can hear Dr. Seuss blowing around in his urn now that this has been proven possible. I mean think about that HORTON HEARS A WHO movie, for example. I believe that’s the first Dr. Seuss feature film to look halfway decent, in fact they did a good job of turning his artwork into a three-dimensional world. Otherwise it has nothing at all to do with the poor bastard. They take the 5-10 minutes of story in the book and bury it in a bunch of unrelated wacky sitcom shit. The timid, loyal elephant character is turned into a Jim Carrey goofball that dances around standing upright doing celebrity impressions and cartoon sight gags and shit. No respect at all for the tone or spirit of the original story. That’s how bad Hollywood is at reading, they can’t even do it when there’s pictures.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE doesn’t have a single drop of that bullshit. It expands on the book organically, not trying to shove it into movie and Saturday morning cartoon formulas, but just letting it grow naturally, keeping the same tone, mood and simplicity. Jonze is looking deep into the simple story and interpreting it instead of looking outside for other subplots to pile on top of it.
How is it possible that this movie was made with the voices of James Gandolfini, Chris Cooper and Forest Whitaker instead of Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen and Snoop Dogg? Huh? Can we give Obama credit for this? It seems like a miracle to me. You know what the trailer would’ve been like: Starts out real dramatic, Harry Pottery orchestral score playing as the camera floats through a beautiful CGI ocean, onto an island, into a forest. The sound of giant feet plodding through dirt. The camera comes to the unmistakable shadow of a large, horned monster. Then…
“Wild thing. You make my heart sing. You make everything… groovy.” The computer-animated wild thing leaps weightlessly in the air doing air guitar. Then a wacky record scratch and Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” comes on. And some sort of dated MATRIX reference maybe. Or American Idol. The wild things make little quips, puffs of smoke come out when they dart around waving their arms everywhere, and there’s jokes about cell phone minutes or 401Ks or something. Ha ha, because why would a wild thing have a 401K. Funny stuff.
The teaser poster: white background. A wild thing standing with his arms folded like a lost member of Run DMC, wearing Snoopy Joe Cool sunglasses. Max next to him, similar pose, backwards baseball cap, skateboard in hand. Below that it says “BORN TO BE WILD.”
You know this to be true. It’s much, much more likely that that would happen than what we got from Spike Jonze. It’s like that speech Dr. Nudity makes on Mars in WATCHMEN. Out of all the possibilites, for this to be the outcome is a miracle.
I know I’m saying more about what’s not in the movie than what is, but that’s the best way I know to describe it. Somehow it’s fantastical and naturalistic at the same time, a fantasy movie that seems to strip away all the artifice, all the bullshit. It throws away all the gimmicks and crutches you expect to see in a movie about this and replaces them with humanity, for good and bad. Through these monsters you have fun, you get scared, hurt, angry, you make friends, you forgive, you say goodbye. It’s funny, but not jokey. It’s weird, but not quirky. It’s gloomy, but not “dark.” It’s narratively simple, but emotionally complex. It’s a movie about big cool looking creatures but it’s more honest about life than movies that are supposed to be the real deal.
Let me cut to the chase: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is a masterpiece. There’s nothing like it and if there’s ever anything like it again it’ll be a long god damn time from now. The movie is like a place that you go, and I can’t wait to go back. But it’s basically an art movie, it has no interest in pleasing everybody. That’s not some elitist thing, it’s just the truth – this is a movie where there are more feelings than there are plot points. Jonze said somewhere his model for the dialogue was John Cassavetes movies, and I don’t think he was talking about THE DIRTY DOZEN. Obviously some people got no time for a challenging kid’s movie, and those people will find this boring as hell.
It’s like you and I know THE LIMEY is fucking badass, but we probly have friends who’d fall asleep during it. And you wouldn’t show it to your mom. Doesn’t mean your mom is stupid, doesn’t mean THE LIMEY isn’t great. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is the same way. Probly won’t make much more money than that thing with the gun toting guinea pigs, but I believe when everyone involved with that movie is dead and buried and not one person has thought of it in nine years many kids and parents will still be passionate about WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. That’s the trade off.
I mean, I’m not sure what other kid’s movie to compare it to. I haven’t seen ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (either the squeakquel or the nutriginal). I have seen GARFIELD though (part 1 only), and in my opinion this is a better movie than GARFIELD. Just my 2 cents.
Shit, maybe I should’ve said “monsterpiece.”
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/42677
View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:20 a.m. CST
FIRST BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANT IS
by BADBOYBROM HC
Michael Jacksons new song is released today, that’s far more important than any movie, apart from the forthcoming THIS IS IT. I trust you’ll all be out in force buying multiple copies. Hopefully this will go on to be the greatest selling record of all time.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:26 a.m. CST
are you fucking kidding me? greatest selling record of all time, you exaggerate my friend
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:29 a.m. CST
Vern…love ya man
Vern, you continue to be, far and away; the best reviewer on this site. Wish you’d do more stuff outside of the usual (and great) Steven Segal movies.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:29 a.m. CST
I ONLY LIVE IN HOPE
by BADBOYBROM HC
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:32 a.m. CST
you have seen Garfield??!! do you agree with BM?
and it ain’t bob Marley!
wow, I knew Spike Jonze handling this movie was the right choice but wow, he really pulled it off. I can’t wait. its just like the Ddogers sweeping the Cardinals!!
big props for those hypothetical Wild Thing promotions (if done by hollywood execs)
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:34 a.m. CST
The MJ movie will outsell The Dark Knight
mark my words. You think Heath Ledger’s death caused TDK to skyrocket at the box office? Wait until this piece of shit MJ money grab flick comes out.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:35 a.m. CST
But Garfield was fucking badass.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:37 a.m. CST
Better than Garfield?
So if this is a masterpiece then Garfield is slightly less than a masterpiece?
Or have i missed the sarcasm
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:48 a.m. CST
A buddy of mine who works on the lot at Warners says
by Rev. Slappy
they expect this to make a shit ton of money, even after having one of the most disastrous test screenings in history. I can’t wait to see it.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:52 a.m. CST
shit man you dont have to get angry because i called you friend
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:52 a.m. CST
Really looking forward to this now!
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:53 a.m. CST
Oh I’m seeing this one.
I didn’t miss the Iron Giant and I’m not missing this one either.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:54 a.m. CST
By the way Vern, how’s the soundtrack?
I’m assuming it fits?
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:56 a.m. CST
Vern is genuinely funny. That’s rare when it comes to reviewers on the internet.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:58 a.m. CST
Thank the maker.
This has my hopes high and not with a bunch of hype either. It sounds like the real deal.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:01 a.m. CST
I Can’t Wait To See It!!!
by Media Messiah
I wish I could see this movie with my ex.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:07 a.m. CST
why the ex man? go get a new girl
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:11 a.m. CST
“That’s how bad Hollywood is at reading, they can’t even do it w
My new favorite quote. Now to think of ways to sneak this into everyday conversations.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:11 a.m. CST
“WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is a masterpiece”
Those are the only words I want to hear to discribe this movie!
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:19 a.m. CST
Movie looks like a furry orgy scenario come true.
That kid’s in a lotta trouble…
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:25 a.m. CST
Seriously, any word on the soundtrack?
Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs fame wrote it. It’s honestly a huge part of why I want to see this.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:26 a.m. CST
was anyone expecting this NOT to be a masterpiece?
I mean after that first trailer I pretty much new that this was gonna be nothing less then incredible. Spike Jonze is a god for getting this film made the way he wanted to.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:29 a.m. CST
I really hope this movie does well
by Spifftacular Squirrel Girl
Seems like a nice throwback to the children’s films of the 80’s and that’s not entirely a bad thing. Although, thanks to Vern’s review of how a studio would probably want to make “Where the Wild Things Are”; I’m very concerned how the Rats of NIHM remake is going to turn out. Shudder.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:33 a.m. CST
SOOOOO fucking there!!!!
Vern, will my 3 1/2 year nephews freak out watching this or is it another one of those kids films wasted on kids?
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:41 a.m. CST
“A Triumph!” “The Year’s Best Film!” etc etc
by Flim Springfield
I just want to be quoted in a commerical.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:42 a.m. CST
Thanks, Vern! Now even more excited to see the movie. Great (non)review. More should be like this
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:45 a.m. CST
And thats why the movie is going to fail
miserably in the B.O.,because its not following Holywood’s formulas.it will be years later that the average audience will discover the greatness of this artwork.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:50 a.m. CST
Spike Jonze is awesome
So there’s two directors named Spike; a white guy with a black sounding name and a black guy with an azn sounding name. The difference is, the white guy kicks all sorts of ass.
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:53 a.m. CST
answers to all your concerns
Yes, the soundtrack fits. I mean it’s a Carter Burwell score but it also has some weird howling rock n roll business. Hard to explain but fits perfectly.<p>
No, Michael Jackson movie will not be bigger than Dark Knight, it’s only playing for 2 weeks. You bet your ass I’m gonna see it though. Who’s bad.<p>
And yes, your nephews will love it if it doesn’t make them shit their pants and run away crying. I could see it going either way. Or they could be terrified of it AND love it, not sure.<p>
I hope I haven’t raised hopes to impossible levels. I really liked it that much. I did hear of people at the screening not being that into it (“Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs was better” was allegedly said out loud), but the people I talked to personally all loved it and seemed to find deep personal meanings in it.<p>
For more information about GARFIELD please see http://outlawvern.com/2004/11/07/garfield/
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:54 a.m. CST
I really hope you’re wrong, Ominus
Though, after Couples Retreat took #1 this weekend, it could well happen. People see a lot of shit.
I think just the fact that this is a kids’ film with an established book inspriation will help it bust a lot of barriers, though. Time will tell. I know I’m fuckin’ there, regardless.
Oct. 12, 2009, 4 a.m. CST
With my nephews it’s likely to be the terrified but love it option because frankly, my nephews fucking ROCK!!!!
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:08 a.m. CST
I hope the score is not too EMO
really, i hope she went light on the fuckin xylophones and cellos and all that shit, because that is one monstrous popular cliche in music at the moment
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:19 a.m. CST
I read your Garfield review..
..and im still not sure what your trying to do by saying WWTA is better than it (assuming WWTA is as good as you say it is)
Based on your review i would say there are a BUNCH of things better then Garfield.
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:33 a.m. CST
Look, you can feel free to disagree, but I just felt WTWTA had more to offer than Garfield.
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:40 a.m. CST
You know what I love…
by Ronald Raygun
Kid’s movies where people die. Not that I’m a sadist or anything. I just like a movie that’s upfront with the little bastards. “Death! It’s real! Get used to it!” That was the main problem with Garfield. Not enough characters died.
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:46 a.m. CST
Spike Jonze was the 2nd choice…
by Alonzo Mosely
After Demon Dave turned it down to try and find the DOORWAY to TRUE EVIL…
That joke was brought to you by 2006…
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:46 a.m. CST
Great movies are made IN SPITE of studios
not because of them.
Oct. 12, 2009, 5:01 a.m. CST
I respect your opinion…
…in saying that the Monsterpiece is better than the Catastrophe. BOOM – wordplay
Oct. 12, 2009, 5:46 a.m. CST
by Holy Hell
I was laughing.
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:32 a.m. CST
“Do you regret anything?”
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:32 a.m. CST
“Do you regret anything?”
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:38 a.m. CST
this sounds great
but it had better not be anything like THE LIMEY. i fucking HATED that movie. <p>
I thought OUT OF SIGHT was one of the best films i’d seen in years and so I found out a little about Soderbergh and TRAVELLED to a FILM FESTIVAL to see the limey.
<p> It was a pile of fucking shit and no mistake. maybe if you’re american there’s something cool about Stamp’s delivery and exxagerated ‘british’ performance but to us brits it was ham and cheese, man. ham and cheese on stale bread. <p> I was SO disappointed by that film. Soderbergh should stick to making Elmore Leonard movies. He made the perfect Elmore Leonartd movie. he could do it again…
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:39 a.m. CST
Wow Vern, I hope you’re right
No compromise is so rare in movies these days. (Just look at the new ending for Paranormal Activity for proof of that.) This book, although it was about twenty pages and had about twenty words of dialogue remains a HUGE part of my childhood. <br> <br> The book doesn’t pander and leaves everything to the imagination of a child. Thank God Spike Jonze got ahold of it before someone else did.
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:39 a.m. CST
THE GOONIES, THE NEVERENDING STORY, LABYRINTH
You know, not so long ago, there was a whole slew of so-called non-commercial kids movies that possessed genuine emotions. I hope you’re not blowing your load on WTWTA just because it wasn’t a shitfest like SHREK 3. Good movies are a good thing, I agree. They are not all masterpieces per se… I’m just weary of the hyperbole that this site gets caught up in on a weekly basis. It would be nice to not have to scrub off the abundance of seminal fluid covering the truth.
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:47 a.m. CST
It’s better than Garfield? That’s not reasuring.
I’ll still go see it since I liked the children’s book when I was young. I’m hoping it is as good as you say it is. I also hope it does better than the machine gun toting chipmunks movie…;)
Oct. 12, 2009, 7:25 a.m. CST
is highly appreciated here. I mean, obviously we all know Vern shoudl write all the reviews blabla only one talented blbblablabla but hey, this is a great, fun piece of writing and your criticism of the studio system and what this movie COULD’VE been is so psot on it’s scary. Are you sure you’re not some marketing exec who secretly writes reviews online …in other words: a PLANT?! (just kidding)
<p> Btw, whoever takes that Garfield reference seriously: you, Sir, are a moron and not worthy of Vern’s wit. “It’s better than Garfield? That’s not reassuring” —> DUMBASS!
Oct. 12, 2009, 7:25 a.m. CST
MJ FILM will NOT outsell Dark Knight dummy
So pumped for Wild Things!!!!!!!!!!! http://sickpicks.blogspot.com/
Oct. 12, 2009, 7:31 a.m. CST
I’m gonna have to wait till Monday to see it because I’m busy every damn day of the weekend, but I’ll be there first thing Monday though
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:08 a.m. CST
That “Born to be Wild” poster idea…
Oh God, you know that’s EXACTLY what a studio would do! Just look at the poster for Alvin and The Chipmunks.
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST
“This is It”
by Skyway Moaters
Classic off topic bullshit. Heard it. It’s crap. <p> Good for Spike & Maurice, and good for Max! I was so sure this was going to be awful but it’s getting raves.
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:15 a.m. CST
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:15 a.m. CST
LOL I JUST CRACKED THE FUCK UP OVER THE FIRST SENTENCE
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:30 a.m. CST
This could be the best review ever on AICN
by Ray Gamma
Because this review not only handles a groundbreaking new movie, it also elegantly summarizes how fucking poor most other movies are today.
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:38 a.m. CST
Spike is the only director left with balls.
He’s a true inspiration unlike every ohter fucktard with a camera who’s too much of a pussy to try something new and different.
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:42 a.m. CST
Excellent review, but I have one disagreement …
People who don’t like The Limey ARE stupid.
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:42 a.m. CST
I wish I still did drugs
I wanna watch this on mushrooms.
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:51 a.m. CST
I very rarely read Vern’s reviews
I’m kinda perplexed as to why he seems pretty smart and yet watches all those shitty, retarded direct to DVD movies! I actually read some of this review, skipped most of it to avoid spoilers, I humbly request he reviews more mainstream flicks in the future. Seriously dude, no one gives a fuck about THE CROW: SALVATION!
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:14 a.m. CST
I never understood why Holywood
has to pass the movies from screen tests before they release it in the public.and make changes if the screen test audience didnt like what it saw.u know thats not creating art,thats product making,and god save american cinema if everything there is so much industrialized.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:15 a.m. CST
Garfied reference in Zombieland
Just wanted to say that when Bill Murray’s reply to whether he had any regrets was, “Well maybe Garfield” and I was the only one in the theater that laughed…well my faith in humanity dipped slightly yet again. Only because I knew all the morons were thinking, “Hey I liked Garfield.”
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:29 a.m. CST
FYI, the soundtrack can be streamed…
by The Garbage Man
…right here: <p>http://tinyurl.com/yamaesb
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:39 a.m. CST
Can’t wait to see This Is It!
Hope it makes more money than Dark Knight and Titanic and Star Wars combined! <p> Ok, will settle for beating Jennifers body.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:44 a.m. CST
The MJ movie
Won’t outsell shit. You can find free tickets to that movie every where.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:54 a.m. CST
Vern…Spot on with Modern Hollywood Marketing
I never cared for the wild things book as a child…it was just too short. However, I will see this film, if it is all you say it isn’t, if for no other reason that to support people who realize sometime less is more, and that art is more than creative product placement.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:55 a.m. CST
Where the TIDELAND things are!!…
…damn, two reviews…where to post my brilliant observations? <P>Both.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10 a.m. CST
This is it!
Will be the cinematic triumph of the year! Firmly establishing Michael Jackson as the greatest crossover star of all time! His corpse will then be re-animated by a process known only to the inner circle of the inner sanctum of the super secret society whose existence can only be guessed at, but is known by a few of the so-called nuttier TB’ers on these boards who have no life and no jobs – because they were let go when short-sighted mgmt. could not see them for the true visionaries they are, but instead labeled them as weird-ass slackers. But they will at last be vindicated!
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:07 a.m. CST
Not to step on WTWTA – which I loved as a kid, and will def see- but inquiring minds want to know will there be a This is It! TB?
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:44 a.m. CST
Might as well credit Obama.
After all, they already gave him a Nobel Prize for nothing!
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:55 a.m. CST
Great review. Highlights:
by Willyer Hero
First of all, this one is VERY different from the other WILD THINGS movies, and with virtually no nudity. But easily one of the best of the series.<p>
…which leads to the much hyped make-kids-cry part of the movie when he briefly chases Max claiming he’s gonna “eat him up.” But don’t worry kids, he’s full of shit. He’s got no follow through on shit like that.<p>
That’s how bad Hollywood is at reading, they can’t even do it when there’s pictures.<p>
and there’s jokes about cell phone minutes or 401Ks or something. Ha ha, because why would a wild thing have a 401K. Funny stuff.<p>
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST
That Garfield review’s good too
by Willyer Hero
At first I couldn’t tell if John could hear Garfield or not, so when I realized he couldn’t, I started thinking maybe there was some twist where John is actually a ghost, or Garfield is actually a ghost. I’m not sure which way it would work.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST
I might be all fucked up but I didn’t like that the island mirrored his real life. The magic of the book, to me, was that the island was Max’s escape. It had nothing to do with his real life. Real life got put on hold while he’s using his imagination. I liked the movie, and I’m so glad they made it, and I should be so thankful that it wasn’t handled differently, but I don’t know. I need to see it a few more times and accept it for what it is.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:07 a.m. CST
Why would the Illuminati want to reincarnate Michael Jackson? To entertain the dumbed-down slaves some more with vapid, meaningless pop songs while they steal our life savings behind our backs? IS that why?
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:13 a.m. CST
Never mention the ‘I’ word in public! They have the ability to turn you into a zombie via remote projection! But yes, re-animating the gloved one, is yet one more way They-who-must-not-be-named, will keep us under their control!
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:18 a.m. CST
it’s uncanny on how much i agree with Vern on so many things
And we couldn’t be more different. Except that we both loath Michael Bay and are left wingers.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:20 a.m. CST
by Shaner Jedi
the sad thing about those films you mentioned is that they WERE commercial films and they still had great emotions and stories.
There was a time in the 80’s when films like that came from studios and genuine commercial players like Spielberg, Henson, and Lucas.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:22 a.m. CST
My Mom dug The Limey.
by Stuntcock Mike
She’s had a thing for General Zod from way back.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:30 a.m. CST
This makes me want S Jonze to do a Calvin and Hobbes
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:43 a.m. CST
Looking forward to it even more now. And yeah, you’re my favorite reviewer here, Vern. But you never accept my flowers!
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:55 a.m. CST
By the Fists of Bale
Spike should have cast Christian Bale in it !!
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:57 a.m. CST
Shaner, I agree but I was keying off of what Vern wrote
He lamented that the movies made for kids today are toy product tie-in shows– cash grabs for the studios and their promotion partners. In that sense, GOONIES, NEVERENDING and LABYRINTH are not in that category. Lucas created the current toyline mania we see today, so he is distinguishable. And Disney, upon purchasing Henson’s characters, have pimped out Kermit & Co. shamelessly. Spielberg, to his credit, did treat E.T. with respect, and he lampooned the Lucas marketing strategy in JURASSIC PARK, all the while engaging in it with promoting the film (ironic?).
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:02 p.m. CST
Spielberg did cash in on the marketing of E.T. toys.
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:02 p.m. CST
Not to mention product placement
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:19 p.m. CST
Yes, but WHEN WILL WE HAVE THE REMAKE?
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:29 p.m. CST
I will never watch this.
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:32 p.m. CST
How do the kids say it? Ah yes, “I LOL’d.”
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:34 p.m. CST
Amazing review Vern, thankyou
Just wanted to give you props on the review. It was hilarious and I had a tremendous time reading it. Your review wasn’t just a review, it was a place to go, and I can’t wait to go back…
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:39 p.m. CST
Spielberg treated E.T. with respect?
Yes, by creating one of the worst video games of all time (now buried in the Mojave Desert), a UK BT ad (“phone home!”), not to mention a multitude of stuffed dolls and other merchandising tat currently on sale at Universal Studios. But Lucas is the fall guy, as usual.
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:53 p.m. CST
I hear you about the hyperbole. I don’t use “masterpiece” that much though, or especially “monsterpiece”. I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t really believe it. But I’m always wary of hyping things up too much. Some people definitely won’t dig it as much and I tried to make it clear at the end that it’s not for everybody.<p>
Right after this went up I read Moriarty’s review on Hitfix, and he calls it “an absolute masterpiece” right at the beginning, but is too short-sighted to call it a monsterpiece.
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:56 p.m. CST
Don’t blame Hollywood, blame yourselves
by Dapper Swindler
The crap Hollywoood churns out is only a reflection of what you, the consumer, have shown to respond to with your wallets. It’s time to take more personal responsibility.
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:59 p.m. CST
You nailed it Vern
Thats the reason I can’t watch animated “family” movies anymore. But your review makes me want to see this. The trailers made it seem like some emo-indie rock-hipster crap, which I never got from as a kid. But yes, the formulaic shit has got to stop.
Oct. 12, 2009, 1:04 p.m. CST
Oct. 12, 2009, 1:08 p.m. CST
No farting or Smash mouth songs. LOL>
Great line!!!. Great review. AICN is on fire today.
Oct. 12, 2009, 1:40 p.m. CST
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:02 p.m. CST
I stand corrected on E.T., and Vern I have faith in your take
Spielberg did cash-in somewhat on E.T., but not nearly as shamelessly as Lucas and others have (I remember it took Spielberg almost 7 years to finally release his movie on VHS, while Lucas was on version #2 or 3 of his SW Trilogy). <p>
And Vern, I wasn’t too worried about you using “monsterpiece” in your review, I just have had my fill of hyperbole in general- like my girlfriend telling me I have her the best foot massage ever last weekend, or my bank teller telling me “your signature is a masterpiece.” I can only take so much enthusiasm in my life.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:04 p.m. CST
If Speilberg intended to ccash-in on ET
by Dapper Swindler
Then why did he make ET so goddamned ugly? Bad marketing.
Oct. 12, 2009, 2:32 p.m. CST
I’ll only see it if Mass says it’s the ‘Best move of the year”
Oct. 12, 2009, 3:57 p.m. CST
Best review I’ve read on the site in a while
and I really, really hope you’re right Vern :)
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:03 p.m. CST
the ‘how you’d expect Hollywood to make and market this film’ bit is probably my favourite bit of writing on the site that I can remember :)
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:07 p.m. CST
Spielberg didn’t cash in on E.T….
by Nasty In The Pasty
…otherwise, there would have been a sequel (and no, that mid-80’s novel doesn’t count). The worst thing he did to the movie was the crummy CGI and removed guns in the 2002 reissue, but at least he offered the unsullied theatrical cut on DVD (in ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN, no less).
Oct. 12, 2009, 4:54 p.m. CST
by BADBOYBROM HC
Sorry if I came over a little aggro this morning! Just can’t stand the Michael bashing. The king is dead, long live the king in out hearts and minds. So say we all.
Oct. 12, 2009, 5:07 p.m. CST
This seemed to me like a pretentious hipster movie
<p>I remember this book from my own childhood, but for some reason the marketing for this film made me think of “the family film for stuck up artsy people”. Has kind of an elitist vibe about it. Probably because it’s Spike Jonez “Oh dude all those cool rock videos! Oh dude he was with Sophia Coppola, that’s so artsy!”</p>
<p>Just seems like one of those movies where you look down on everyone who doesn’t like it, the way people look down on people who like Transformers “Sigh, I’m sure WTWTA isn’t your cup of tea, but stupid explosions and horrible writing and Megan Fox’s tits ARE… sigh… you’re so common.” </p>
<p>That and you wonder, are they doing the book because they love it, or is it just ANOTHER thing from the 80s we can go “Oh my God, I totally loved WTWTA when I was a kid, they should totally make a movie of it with like Spike Jonez and have a bunch of indie pop in it because my taste is so good, the common man will never even get it, it’s just way too smart for them.” </p>
<p>So. Anyway. I’ll see it. </p>
Oct. 12, 2009, 5:10 p.m. CST
BTW I’d love to see Vern’s sarcatstic take on what it
could have been. That’s exactly how a big studio would approach it. I don’t recall if in your scenario, inbetween Ton Loc’s “Wild Thang” there was an enormous fart sound with massive reverb and delay, but there should be.
Oct. 12, 2009, 5:36 p.m. CST
Looking forward to it
Vern’s take on the studio version is flawless.
Oct. 12, 2009, 5:44 p.m. CST
“I see furry people”
Will this kid finally replace Haley Joel? Then get raped like Dakota Fanning?
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:10 p.m. CST
If this turns out to be a mega galactic steaming turd like Magnolia I’m gonna go to an art house and beat the shit out of some random film snobs with my Transformers DVD case.
Oct. 12, 2009, 6:47 p.m. CST
Wow. This movie is so good Vern had to review it straight.
That is some serious proof-of-quality there.
Oct. 12, 2009, 7:11 p.m. CST
Speilberg most certainly did cash-in on E.T.
I still have an E.T pull-up-head toy that I got at burger king from way back then. He had a massive toy tie in plus shameless product placement. Say what you will about Lucas, but he mostly cashed in after Star Wars hit it big. Spiels planned his cashin before the movie hit the screens.
Oct. 12, 2009, 7:11 p.m. CST
Reeses pieces anyone?
Oct. 12, 2009, 7:59 p.m. CST
why does every spike jonze and charlie kaufman movie for that ma
have to be reviewed on this site as the best thing ever? are they really THAT good?
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:16 p.m. CST
DO THE MONSTERS USE MACBOOKS IN THE MOVIE?
Oct. 12, 2009, 8:16 p.m. CST
I HAVE A MONSTERPIECE
AND I’M RUBBING IT RIGHT NOW.
TRUE STORY, THAT.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:18 p.m. CST
Born to be wild
Oh, you forget the skateboarding kid is wearing a t-shirt with a “wolf wearing a crown.” Other that I was afraid the studio was going to yank the movie from him and make a movie for happy meals.
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:18 p.m. CST
I’m a left winger AsimovDouchebag…youre a cliche
Oct. 12, 2009, 9:24 p.m. CST
Geez, buddy, it seems to me like either you’re hanging out with a bunch of pricks all the time or you’re spending too much time worrying about what they think of you. I don’t really get all this talk about hipsters people do now. I don’t even know what hipsters are because the people I thought were hipsters are the ones always complaining about hipsters. All I know is I can’t relate at all to the music you’re referring to or the clothes, the skinny little chicken-legged sissies with the tight pants and eyeliner or the shaggy haired hobo wannabes or the people who call their music “emo” or ESPECIALLY the people who worry about anybody else who would name their music after a shitty comedian who was in a Weird Al movie. I guess I’m too old and it’s too loud and they should get off my lawn. I don’t understand or relate to any of them, and I loved this movie, so I think it can be separated from whatever dumb youth movement you’re associating it with.<p>
I hope you like it, but if not don’t worry about it, who gives a shit what some hypothetical artsy person, hipster or sucker MC thinks about it. Fuck ’em.<P>
(Have you seriously ever heard somebody say “how common” before? In real life?)
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:33 p.m. CST
bringin’ out the big guns!
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:37 p.m. CST
There are some really sad…
fuckers on this site that need to grow up fast.
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:57 p.m. CST
I’m a recovering hipster Vern
<p>I used to hang out with people like that, so now I’m going in the other direction. Anything that smacks of pretension or “being artsy” just bugs me for some reason. Probably because hipster type people really make “art” just so they can pat each other on the back on how cool they are. Maybe the marketing of this movie is giving me flashbacks to that. </p>
<p>It’s how I do penance. But yeah, the type of people who are big Spike Jonez fans (at least back in the day when we was banging Sophia Coppola and was a music video director) do talk about that and do think in that way. </p>
<p>In movie terms just think of someone who can’t ever shut up about how bad Transformers 2 was or how much they hate Michael Bay and people who like TF2 have no taste.</p>
<p>Not a remark on your review though, which I liked. I read some more reviews and it seems this is going to be big.</p>
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:05 p.m. CST
awardgiver got the same vibe
<p>”The trailers made it seem like some emo-indie rock-hipster crap, which I never got from as a kid.</p>
<p>So it wasn’t just me that got that vibe from it. Spike Jonez and a famous children’s book from the 80s has hipsterism written all over it. Almost as bad as Wes Anderson.. I see and enjoy his films but they are too self-aware and precious, at the same time. </p>
<p>But, I’m willing to see it. The guys from At the Movies were both practically in tears in their review.</p>
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:06 p.m. CST
From what I read…
it sounds like this entire site despises Bay.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:08 p.m. CST
Of course those guys…
reviewed it that way. They’re new-faced critics. They need legs to stand on.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:11 p.m. CST
What IS a hipster? I’m from NY and I just call ’em NYers
Someone that spends $200 on fashionable sneakers? Does a hipster carry exotic mints in his front pocket? I shave twice a week and wear Levi’s jeans. I don’t pay attention to these folks to be honest. You know who pisses me off? Nazis. Hipsters are harmless, let’s firm up, people. Keep your eye on the Nazis.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:22 p.m. CST
Yeah the entire site despises Bay
That’s just what is bothering me, the elitism. Not just hipster elitism but even sci-fi nerd elitism. It’s cool to say “Transformers Sucks!” But I don’t think it’s cool to say “I hope Michael Bay dies a slow painful death”. That’s just not cool.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:28 p.m. CST
A hiptster is just someone who thinks they have better taste
<p>than anyone else, tend to be fans of indie rock, and wish they were still living in the late 70s, early 80s. They look down on people who aren’t (in their minds) as informed or culturally aware that they are. And a movie made by Spike Jonez about a children’s book from the 80s is a prime target for those people because Jonez has an “in” for the indie pop world, and for having sex with its former first lady Sophia Coppola. People who are “artsy” can be really stuck up. And this movie, seemed to be cut from that cloth (to me). But I clearly have issues.</p>
<p>Bottom line, I guess the thing that bugged me the wrong way is that this is a movie for children.. and I saw it as perhaps a way to make children “lil jr. hipsters”, and that just seems wrong to me… let it appeal to all kids. Not just the kids of parents who like indie rock and think they are better than everyone else. Like the parents from that movie that had the dude from the Office and Maya Rudolph.</p>
<p>Anyway. Just working out my demons.</p>
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:31 p.m. CST
Well, if you still live in NY, go to Williamsburg and wait 5 minutes. You’ll see one. I hate hipsters so much that I think the greatest thing that humanity could achieve would be to firebomb Great Scott in Allston (Boston) on a Friday night with all of them trapped inside, Great White style. That being said, I’ve been aching to see this movie for a year and a half, and Ill be there at the first showing.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:43 p.m. CST
You’re right cylon, it’s not cool.
Because if he died slowly, he might have time to make another movie. And that’s not cool.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:48 p.m. CST
TF3 is coming, nothing you can do about it
Other than stay home. Guess you could stay home. But then you don’t get to criticize it if you don’t see it.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:52 p.m. CST
Cylon, I hear ya
I live jsut north by a few miles of The Bronx and I go into the city at least once a week to meet friends. The hipsters have always been around in one way or another- the labels change over time but the attitude is constant in NY. That’s why I simply call them NYers. But labels notwithstanding, I don’t really pay the attitude much mind. I find most folks interesting and even the psychosis of a hipster can be funny/diverting in small doses. I was being glib before, but I kind of mean it when I say “let’s focus on bad folks” and cut those who are simply annoying some slack. The collective tension that exists in our society is unhealthy. People can’t find joy in the little things (Rule #37). But you sound like a solid fella, so keep a good attitude.
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:58 p.m. CST
I’m not against anyone either… I just had my own hipster flashback. As I get older I try to not be as elitist and judgmental, so the best way for me to do that is to be judgmental against judgmental people. Hmm… something’s not right.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:26 a.m. CST
I too got the ‘hipster’ vibe from this one…
Mainly because the trailer didn’t give me the vibe that the book gave me as a kid… it just seemed odd, dark, and bittersweet. Also because the trailers have annoying whiny indie music that makes me want to just fucking listen to ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’ for the thousandth time to cleanse the palette of joylessness and lack of any sonic reason whatsoever to get up and move my ass. Anyway… where was I?<p>But yeah, if there’s one thing that kids aren’t, it’s hipster or pretentious…. (or at least they shouldn’t be if they haven’t been brainwashed by parents that think its cute to make a five year old wear a Frank Zappa t-shirt). You can hate The Phantom Menace all you want, but if you put an eight year old in front of the t.v. with it on and they think Jar Jar is neat and you argue with them… then you’re a fucking pretentious hipster idiot. And even though I hate the movie, the kid is the only one watching it without any baggage. <p>But from what I’ve heard about this movie, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. It seems that I’m probably the one being some kind of inverse hipster douchebag, so I’ll go in with an open mind. In my mind, the greatest movie to ever capture childhood is E.T. It gets it all right… the need for warmth and safety, but also how dangerous the outside world can seem and all you want is to be with the people you care about. When you watch it as an adult, it takes you right back to what it was like before the stresses of the adult world intruded.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:48 a.m. CST
Well said SK229
<p>Lol at trying to explain to a kid that Jar Jar is annoying. That would make you the “uncool dad”.</p>
<p>I like indie music and independent film.. what I don’t like is this idea that the people who make that stuff somehow have a claim on what is “real art” and what is “crass commercial art”. And the parents who would dress their kids in Frank Zappa t-shirts is exactly what I’m talking about.</p>
<p>But the film has to stand on its own merits. If it really is the next E.T. (or at least timeless like E.T. was) then the pretentiousness will not be that severe, because the two just don’t go together.
Oct. 13, 2009, 1:19 a.m. CST
Didn’t this movie come out like two years ago?
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:08 a.m. CST
There’s nothing ‘hipster-ish’ about this movie.
It won’t give you the vibe you had as a kid, because that’s subjective and probably impossible. But, what the movie does extraordinarily well is make you FEEL like a kid who would read “Where the Wild Things Are” at that age.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:25 a.m. CST
It’s not just your post that made me want to ask about it, I have noticed alot of that anti “hipster” talk so I appreciate your attempt to explain it to me. It still seems to me like you’re projecting, but maybe I just don’t know people like you know. I think I participate in a new more elite form of elitism where I wouldn’t really want to talk movies with somebody that has that kind of limited taste where it’s either mainstream or not mainstream. I mean I loved SYNECHDOCHE, NEW YORK but I also wrote a book about the films of Steven Seagal. So I guess if you hated one of those things I wouldn’t be the guy to talk to.<p>
But I also think when you’re younger than I am you have those weird tensions where you judge people by the music they listen to. And I’m just way too out of touch to judge people on that. I mean I know a little bit of the hip hop but not any of those white people with the knit caps with ear flaps and all that shit.<p>
By the way, Where the Wild Things Are is not a book from the ’80s, it was published in 1963. I think you’re thinking of Garfield: Big Fat Hairy Deal.
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:27 a.m. CST
On the topic of Hipsters…
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:30 a.m. CST
Garfield Takes the Cake I believe was the name of the book
Oct. 13, 2009, 2:55 a.m. CST
Lovely review, Vern.
Everything you say about the degeneration of kid’s films is spot on.
Oct. 13, 2009, 4:53 a.m. CST
I got it too, a little bit. I think that for me it was the combination of Catherine Keener and the color palette of the real world scenes shown in the trailer. It strongly reminds me of Synecdoche, New York, which IS a very ‘artistic’ film, and a deeply unsettling one, in my opinion. When I watch the WTWTA trailer I keep expecting a slovenly, existentially disaffected Philip Seymour Hoffman a la The Savages to appear in the next scene. And don’t get me wrong, nobody does that better than Hoffman, but it’s not what I want from a Sendak story. And it’s not what I really think I will get, either–it’s just that we probably can’t help but unconsciously link those similar aesthetics when we see the ads (being aware of Jonze’s and Karen O’s involvement just complicates it even more). So maybe the fact that the trailers make people uneasy that the movie will be too ‘artsy’ or pretentious just proves the argument that there is a serious dearth of imaginative, quality entertainment from a realistic child’s perspective available today, and the closest thing we can compare it to is either focus-tested crap like G-Force or very dark adult fare like Kaufman films. Now that I think about it, the shot of the little toy boat or whatever it is in the trailer calls to mind–speaking for myself only–some of the more surreal stuff in Eternal Sunshine, too, so there’s another experimental ‘artsy’ link. Or maybe I just AM one of the hipsters. At least I can see it. But wait…isn’t an ironic self-awareness one of the hallmarks of the hipster persona? Shit! Somebody help me, I’m trapped in a closed loop of smug, self-liberating irony.
Oct. 13, 2009, 5:33 a.m. CST
CALVIN AND HOBBES
Eventually Hollywood will make a Calvin and Hobbes movie. And chances are they will shit all over it. They’ll ignore the ambiguity of Hobbes reality. It will probably centre on Hobbes being kidnapped by evil toy collectors and Calvin will have to rescue him with Home Alone-esque contraptions.
Unless a miracle happens, like with this movie, and someone makes a C&H movie which essentially just follows them through one summer and winter,no big plot arc or any real incident, just a series of simple scenarios taken straight from the strip. Alas, I dream.
Oct. 13, 2009, 6:48 a.m. CST
There will never be a Calvin and Hobbes movie.
by Bob Cryptonight
The guy who created Calvin and Hobbes controls all the rights and he doesn’t give a shit about making money. At the height of the strip’s popularity, he was offered tons of money to have toys made of the characters, but he turned ’em all down.
Oct. 13, 2009, 8:21 a.m. CST
The common man IS dumb
Anyone who denies it is either A. The dumb common man of which I speak, and is reacting in a reflexive, defensive manner, or B) never actually exposed to common men, sitting back from their oh-so-enlightened enclave sticking up for the rights of common men from afar. Common men are stupid, sorry to be the one to break it to some of my talkbacking comrades. Go live in some of the blue-collar suburbs of Baltimore for a year and then come see me about how enlightened the common man is and how much you loved the “local flavor”. I wont hold my breath.
Oct. 13, 2009, 8:27 a.m. CST
This review is a monsterpiece!
I could just quote the entire thing. Well done Vern, well done.
Oct. 13, 2009, 9:59 a.m. CST
Aaron Copeland doesn’t write themes for dumb people
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:34 p.m. CST
I understand the resentment against Poop Jokes
in movies as a cop out easy lame joke. but guess what? kids can be the most filthy minded motherfuckers on the planet. Me and my friends when I was kid made fucking poop and dick jokes. Superbad hit the nail on the coffin with the whole dick drawing thing. So if the Max in this movie doesn’t make a poop or dick joke, I can’t really identify with him. Buy hey man, I was just your typical regular kid, so I guess there was something wrong with me.
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:56 p.m. CST
Bitching about ‘hipsters’ Cylon?
by Skyway Moaters
Why waste time on such a useless persuit? You a fan of Armond White by any chance. BTW WTWA is not “a kid’s book from the 80ies”. It was published in 1963.
Oct. 13, 2009, 1:07 p.m. CST
My mistake on date book was published
I was a kid in the 80s when I read it, so naturally I assume time began with my birth.
Oct. 13, 2009, 1:10 p.m. CST
To sum up, I never said I wasn’t interested in the film
I was making a comment on the marketing, which led me to believe that this was going to be one of those art for arts sake movies that was too aware of itself for “normal” people (the non-enlightened) to enjoy. I thought it would be like Eternal Sunshine or Djarleeng Limited but for kids. And to me that’s just style over substance. So I was surprised to see that in fact it’s a mainstream film that normal kids can enjoy, and not just self-aware hipsters. If it’s the next E.T. I’m not going to miss it just because of the soundtrack or marketing.
Oct. 13, 2009, 3:03 p.m. CST
It looks like a decent film, but…
…not something I’ll check out anytime soon. Some films require that I’m in a certain frame of mind, certain mood, or going through a certain phase..and this appears to be one of them. I’m not lamenting my childhood, nor do I plan to in the coming months, and I’m not in the mood to revisit what it felt like to be a child. But when that time comes, I’ll add this to my netflix list. It’s gonna be awhile.