Maurice Sendak’s tiny classic children’s story – it has only 338 words, giving a film adaptation quite a headache – becomes a lovely, quite gorgeous-looking looking but hugely overblown 2009 movie – thanks to the seemingly willfully offbeat if brilliant director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation).
The 12-year-old Max Records stars as naughty little boy Max who, after his mother Catherine Keener sends him to bed without his supper for unruly behaviour, creates his own world of wild creatures who crown him as their ruler.
Those creatures are marvellously realised with huge, eye-catching total-head masks by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and the visual effects, photography and locations are astounding in a technically first-rate film. But the initially charming story becomes very boring indeed spread out over 101 minutes and wears out its lovely warm welcome, moving very slowly.
That said, it could all be enthralling if you are in the right mood and frame of mind. And, finally, there is something quite delightful and lastingly memorable about it.
Great though his superb, distinctive tones are, it is difficult to understand why Tony Soprano – James Gandolfini – is voicing a character called Carol, the chief creature. But there we are!
Jonze writes the screenplay with Dave Eggers.
Warner Bros sought to promote the film as a movie for adults and spent 70 per cent of their media advertising budget targeting grown-ups. That worked up to a point. This immensely costly film, $100 million, earned $77 million in the US.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4418
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