Not Your Average Monster Movie

Spike Jonze is easily the most adventurous filmmaker working in Hollywood.  His success has allowed him opportunities to take chances on projects that movie studios might otherwise reject.  It might even be possible to argue his success on unconventional projects in part inspired the studios to tackle projects like a Facebook movie or a Battleship movie.  Thankfully, Spike Jonze has never caved to studio pressure to repeat his films successes by making sequels, though I’m sure there was interest in Being John Malkovich 2, etc.

Like many people, I read Where the Wild Things Are when I was a kid.  I can’t remember many of the books that I read.  Upon hearing that it was being made into a movie I was fairly skeptical if it could be done, the book is only 20 pages – and mostly pictures at that.  These fears were relieved upon hearing Spike Jonze was attached.  His work displays unique and amazing imagery, instead of being an exact replica like Zack Snyder or Robert Rodriguez’s work on Sin City.

It was interesting to discover when researching about the movie that it was Maurice Sendak, the author of the book, who picked Spike Jonze to direct the film.  Apparently his work on Being John Malkovich was what inspired Maurice Sendak to make this selection.  I found this interesting because it feels like one of those unique opportunities where a director’s vision seems to go hand in hand with the source material.

With a modest $80 million dollar budget (in comparison to many Hollywood films) it seems like there is little chance of this film not being a success.  The only other two notable films also being released Oct. 16th are Law Abiding Citizen (staring Gerald Butler and Jamie Foxx) and Black Dynamite (the indie darling that was scored at Sundance).  Neither of those films should compete for the same audience.  Additionally, Where the Wild Things Are should have sole access to the “family friendly” genre as it looks to be good for both children and adults.

It is nice to see Spike Jonze continuing to use some of his regulars, as both Catherine Keener and Chris Cooper are appearing in the movie.  His ability to pull strong performances out of his actors in bizarre roles is certainly one of the reasons why his films are successful.  Similarly, he has been able to understand what audiences want, which is why his collaborations with Charlie Kaufman were successful – in contrast Charlie Kaufman’s solo work on Synecdoche, New York.

All in all, I’m very much looking forward to Where the Wild Things Are.  There is no question it was my nostalgia that first interested me in the project.  The trailers have captured my imagination and bring me back to my childhood.  I’m excited to see what Spike Jonze does with the project as he makes it into his own vision.  This is by far his most ambitious project so far, and it looks like it could be his best yet.


Spencer was born and raised in New Mexico. He grew up with the many great films of the 1980’s before having his world rocked after seeing The Usual Suspects. He moved to Washington State to go to the University of Washington, and currently any free time he currently has is split between working on film projects and watching films.

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