Oh, boy. It looks like Spike Jonze is giving Where The Wild Things Are the same psychoanalytical grilling the Grinch got in his movie. Goodness knows I’m happy for Maurice Sendak—and I’d be the happiest boy in the world if the cinema gods smiled upon a book of mine. But I’m apprehensive when kids’ books get made into movies.
A big part of what makes this book a masterpiece is the ruthless editing and paring-down Sendak did in order to give the reader just enough information to set his own imagination running. George Bernard Shaw said successful theater requires that the audience do fifty per cent of the work. I believe that rule goes for children’s books, too.
So, to fill up an hour-and-a-half the movie’s creative team will be running pins into Max to see what makes him tick—so expect exposition galore—as well as giving the wild things all kinds of stage business and smart-alecky one-liners. I suspect there will be Important Messages about Family and Relationships and Understanding People Who Are Different and Bullying and Staying Away From Fatty Foods.
Yes, I’ll go see it. I’ll be the cranky old guy harrumphing in the back row.