When this film first came out based on the children’s book by Maurice Sendak, I was really excited. Unfortunately, I was unable to catch it at the theater. Though, I’m glad I missed it – this film was a real disappointment.
(Word of caution: In general, I don’t really review bad films unless I feel strongly about it. This one is one of those exceptions).
Let me just say for the record, I am a fan of the book. As a kid, I remember reading this book and really enjoyed it. This is why I was so excited when I heard the film was coming out. Since I’m a fan of the book, it just made sense to go out and want to see the movie.
From the very beginning, there was a lot of violence and anger presented in the film. Even the opening scene started out violent – it was truly shocking. And, what is even more shocking is the fact that many parents (who were fans of the book and thought this film was a movie for children) brought their children to go see the film.
(Note: If you read some of the reviews online, there are many parents who have voiced their opinion about the level of violence in the movie. From watching the trailer, this doesen’t seem like a violent type of movie – it seems more like a children movie. Though, in reality it’s not).
The film centers around the life of a young boy, Max (played by Max Records), who seems very lonely (he’s not much of a people person as he seems not to have many friends) and is dealing with parental issues (mainly his mother played by Catherine Keener).
All throughout the movie, Max seems to have a major issue with anger – he is angry all the time. And, it’s not quite clear where and/or why this anger is coming from. It’s almost as if you have to just accept (without knowing where and/or why) that this kid has anger issues.
For me, this anger issue Max possessed didn’t really do it for me. For me to understand and care about this character, I really needed to know why and where this anger was coming from – it was just never revealed in the film. It seemed like they just wanted you to accept that he had this anger complex but not ask why.
(Note: If you are a parent (as there are parents out there who read this blog), I would strongly caution against some of the scenes in the film – they are very violent especially for small children).
The rest of the story focuses on Max running away and sailing to a far off island. When he arrives, he is excited and scared at the same time – excited to be in a new environment but scared of the unknown. And, he does meet the unknown – a group of “mythical like” creatures.
At first, Max is unsure of these new creatures and their intentions. Though, over time he befriends them and gets to know them – it’s almost as if he found a new family. As Max spends more time with the creatures, more and more it seems as if he did find a new family – one that accepted him.
Though, there are points in the film where adult type issues are presented among the creatures (even in this world). And, there were times when the creatures did not accept Max anymore – just as he was not accepted in the real world.
And, I guess this movie is really about acceptance and finding your place in the world. Since Max had few friends, he did not feel like he had a place in the real world. So, he attempted to escape and seek refuge in the imaginary world. Though, he still did not find his place in the imaginary world. So, Max finds himself retreating back to the real world.
(Note: As I watched this movie, I really thought this kid had some major anger and behavioral issues. It was a bit comical that he wasn’t even accepted into the imaginary world. It was almost as if the mythical creatures he met and befriended could not really function and deal with his anger issues. It was quite an interesting dynamic).
Overall, I was disappointed with the film. It lacked presentation and a sense of focus – it was all over the place. The dialogue was very dry – many scenes involved too much talking with no real purpose and/or sense of direction. It felt like they just put these scenes in and threw the dialogue together without much thought as to the purpose and how it fits into the overall picture.
However, I felt the storyline was there – it just wasn’t presented well. Though, I did enjoy some of the music in the film – some of the songs were very unique and enjoyable. But, that’s about it.
If you’ve been contemplating seeing this film, I don’t really recommend it. It’s just not very well executed – it lacked focus. And, if you have children (especially small ones) it’s definitely not a children and/or family type movie.
If you really want to see this movie, it would be best if you either borrowed it (for free) at the library or from a friend who has the DVD. Overall, it just wasn’t that great.
(Note: For all the fans of the film, these are just my thoughts – it just didn’t do it for me).
Happy movie watching!
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