Why I Worry About the Where the Wild Things Are Trailer

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Posting about the Where the Wild Things Are trailer has already, in 24 hours, become the trucker hat of nerdblogging. Who am I to defy the status quo? Nobody, that’s who.

I initially held off on a post about this trailer because … I didn’t like it. I yield to nobody in my love for Spike Jonze, or at least Being John Malkovich. Ditto the Maurice Sendak book. And the visuals look great. The boat, which was my real obsession as a kid, looks perfect. I yield to everybody in my love of the Arcade Fire, but OK, no big deal. I’m just not sold on this yet.

My objections are twain:

One, and this is probably nothing, but I pray that the book hasn’t been turned into a story about a little boy dealing with divorce, and that’s why he dreams up the Wild Things. Clearly they’ve expanded Max’s real-life story far beyond just getting sent to bed without his supper. But kids don’t need divorcing parents to dream up Wild Things, their default setting is Wild. Isn’t that part of the point? Plus, you know, I’m going to go to this for Wild Things, not for a buncha Kramer vs. Kramer feelings and such.

Two, and this is what really worries me: the Wild Things don’t seem all that Wild. What I loved about the book was that the Wild Things actually felt dangerous — you had the sense that if Max screwed up, they actually probably would eat him. So the fact that he dominated them wasn’t just bad-ass, it also meant that he himself was fundamentally wild and dangerous.

But the vibe I’m getting off these Things isn’t so much Wild as Sensitive and Nurturing. As if they were all just a bunch of big walking vintage sweaters who were there to help Max get in touch with — wait for it — his feelings. Max in the book doesn’t have to get in touch with his feelings. He’s so in touch with them, he has feelings coming out of every orifice! He has to master his feelings, not get in touch with them. Or he’s going to tear the whole house apart.

p.s. here’s the trailer in, per Ain’t It Cool, “glorious Quicktime:”

p.p.s. update: the song is growing on me. Dammit!

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