Wild Things climb higher

Where the Wild Things Are slice

Where are the Wild Things now? 11 points higher on metacritic than they were yesterday. Anyone scorning a score of 71 should take note that there are 4 ratings of 100 in the mix. That’s as many perfect scores as Bright Star and only one less than Inglourious Basterds. Weighing in with raves today are Rolling Stone and LA Weekly:

Scott Foundas: Just as the characters of Jonze’s Being John Malkovich slipped inside the skin of the erudite character actor, Jonze and Eggers here climb into the head of a preteen boy at once frightened by the world around him and eager to master it. So Max’s solo boat ride to the isle of the wild things is markedly more perilous than Dorothy’s cyclone, the landscape he finds there more rugged than enchanted. This parallel world (the inspired work of production designer K.K. Barrett and cinematographer Lance Acord) has all the weight and textures of the real one, a reminder that so much of children’s make-believe begins with the transfiguration of ordinary objects — a cardboard box that becomes a fort, a tinfoil suit of armor.

…This may sound like heady stuff for kids, and it is, but no more so than what actually goes through kids‚Äô heads as they feel their way through the world. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs hard being a family,‚Äù says KW late in the film ‚Äî harder still being 9 or 10 and learning that parents are imperfect people, that friendships are fleeting, and that nothing lasts forever. Like Sendak before him, Jonze seizes upon that uncertain moment and transforms it into art.

Peter Travers: Forget every sugary kid-stuff clich√© Hollywood shoves at you. The defiantly untamed Where the Wild Things Are is a raw and exuberant mind-meld between Maurice Sendak, 81, the Caldecott Medal winner who wrote and illustrated the classic 1963 book, and Spike Jonze, 39, the Oscar-nominated director (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) who honors the explosive feelings of childhood by creating a visual and emotional tour de force. The movie barrels out at you like a nine-year-old boy filled to bursting with joys, fears and furies he can’t articulate.

…For all the money spent, the film’s success is best measured by its simplicity and the purity of its innovation. Jonze has filmed a fantasy as if it were absolutely real, allowing us to see the world as Max sees it, full of beauty and terror.

Meanwhile, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir names 10 Kids Movies that Aren’t for Kids — “…movies that either accidentally or deliberately embody a fundamentally adult understanding of the world, an ironic or tragic or frankly frightening picture of life that will either terrify the youngest viewers or sail right over their heads.” His list, after the cut.

“Spirited Away”
…this movie thrums some deep, archetypal strings, and troubled me for days afterward. My kids love “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” but I ain’t going here.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”
…the defining work of a semi-new kidult genre that combines grotesquerie with sweetness, a genre closely linked to the career of kidult pioneer Tim Burton (who produced and co-wrote this movie).

… you’d have to say that Pixar has entered a new phase. These are fairy tales for grown-ups, and especially for parents, with just enough candy coating that kids will tolerate them.

“Fantastic Planet”
…Travel with us now back to the hedonistic early 1970s, when some parents were persuaded that a French animated film set on a planet where 50-foot superior beings keep humans as pets, was appropriate for children.

… its sinister, sub-Freudian elements — the evil alternate mom who wants to replace Coraline’s eyes with buttons; the passage between worlds through a throbbing, glowing tunnel — still seem to spring from somewhere way down deep.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005)
and/or “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971)
…Which one of these adaptations of Roald Dahl’s classic is most completely demented, grotesque and inappropriate for children? Take your pick, really. It’s interesting about Dahl — there’s a diabolical intelligence that’s often close to cruelty in his books…

“The Witches”
…Speaking of Roald Dahl, let’s take one of his most malicious books, cast it with a pile of art-house-type actresses (Anjelica Huston, Brenda Blethyn, Mai Zetterling) and hand it over to Nicolas Roeg, director of “Don’t Look Now” and “Performance”!

“The Dark Crystal”
…Along with several other animated films of the same era — most notably “The NeverEnding Story” and “The Secret of NIMH” — “Dark Crystal” helped define the fantasy-oriented kidult demographic.

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
…this big-budget 1968 musical belongs on some other list — misbegotten movies that aim at a mass market and don’t wind up really working for anybody

…undeniably also for those of us who have outgrown such things — who long to cram all the pots and pans in the microwave and turn it on, but are, alas, late for work.


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