So I saw Where the Wild Things Are over the weekend. I read the Dave Eggars novelization of it two weekends ago. Now that I’ve done some digesting of it I feel ready to put down my opinion.
The two versions are strikingly similar (unsurprising given that Eggars penned both of them). The few plot diversions weren’t particularly important but did make it more interesting going through the story a second time. After careful thought I’m now certain I liked the book better. It shows Max’s inner voice, which is childish but also enlightening. In the movie, the viewer never sees Max’s debate over what are often fairly clear-cut moral issues from an adult’s perspective but not from Max’s.
One example of this is Max’s dilemma over whether or not it is right to be throwing animals as part of their dirt clod war. He can see the animals do not like it and perhaps even more important to him, he doesn’t like being hit by them. He is about to tell “the bad guys” not to throw them anymore when the good guys start kicking bad guy butt while using them. He then decides that it’s ok for them to be used temporarily so that the good guys can win. This is obviously funny and childish but when you think about it, fairly widespread in every day life among functioning adults.
Max’s inner dialogue proves to be enlightening throughout the entire book. Max wrestles through his selfish view of the world trying to be an effective king. He sees pleasing everyone is impossible and sees its even more impossible when he’s most often thinking of himself.
This really made the book for me and is the reason why I hold it more dear in my heart than the movie. That said, the movie was great. I loved seeing the Jonze’s vision of the fort. The wild rumpus parade was also fantastic. Seeing the giant dog and tiny cats was great fun too. And lastly, the voice acting of the characters was great. I especially loved James Gandolfini as Carol.
All in all, Where the Wild Things Are still has a special place in my heart. In fact, this place may have grown larger with the movie and novel. Great job by Dave Eggars, Spike Jonze, and of course Maurice Sendak.