I had mildly high expectations for Where the Wild Things Are. There's a movie I'll get to in a couple days that I really disliked, but I had no expectations for that movie. That makes Where the Wild Things Are my biggest disappointment of the year.*
However, based only on the book, I shouldn't have had any expectations whatsoever. The book - it's not very good. I can hear your protests screaming through my computer as I type this, so hear my out. Yes, the pictures are pretty. They are original and nice to look at. But the story, even by the standards of a kids' story, isn't much.
It's fewer than 60 words. Those fifty something words need to be excellent - they're ok. So this kids if Fing around, so him mom sends him to bed without supper. He images a bunch of creatures. Then his supper is waiting for him. End of story.
First of all, that's bad parenting. But second, your great memories of this book are no different than your great memories of playing tag. You "read" this when you were a young child, and the pictures were cool to look at.
Make that into a feature length movie, and there isn't a lot. So the makers of the movie had to expand on things quite a bit. I didn't care for what they did.
Let's start with the part that I liked about the book - the look. I didn't like the look of the Wild Things at all. They looked like the drawings in the book, but without style. Yes, they had CGI faces. But I still look at the costumes walking around and I see H.R. Pufnstuf. Even the voices of the characters annoyed me. It seemed like James Gandolfini and company were trying to do bad kids voices instead of, you know, acting.
The general look of the movie was very dim to me. Now this criticism might just be the theater where I saw it, but I don't think so. I saw it at the Contra Costa Stadium in Martinez, which usually has nice bright screens. After the movie, I had to shield my eyes when walking out into the lobby. I usually don't need to do that. It was just too dim in the theaters, which washed out the picture.
But for me, the part I didn't click with was the tone. Every review I've read from people who liked it discussed their own childhood. They stated that it brought back those feelings of sadness and frustration and handled those concepts beautifully. I didn't agree. The anger and frustration of the Wild Things just seemed - whiny.
My theory is that my childhood wasn't bad enough to like this movie. A couple days after watching Where the Wild Things Are, I was browsing through Garfield Minus Garfield and I came across this comic. For me, it sums up my feelings about this movie.
*I just watched Avatar, and I was pretty disappointed with that, too. But I want to give it a few days to see if the pretty pictures were enough to make me forget the lack of original story or interesting characters.