Where The Mild Things Are?

 Maurice Sendak, Where The Wild Things Are

Sendak’s picture book is probably one of my all-time favourite children’s books: it is haunting and not a little scary. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Currently doing the rounds of various culture and art-related blogs is the news that not only have Warner Brothers pushed back the release of the Spike Jonze directed adaptation of ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ until next year but various ‘technical issues’ are being cited. These issues are not the special effects but rather the actor who plays the boy and the script itself.

Why did a studio employ both Spike Jonze (as director) and Dave Eggers (as writer) if they wanted the sort of nonsense that Chris Columbus could make? The test screening saw children in tears and being taken out of the cinema. Didn’t their parents show them the book first? Didn’t the parents explain that the monsters they saw were going to be moving and therefore scarier?

Here’s the real twist: reportedly, Jonze and Eggers have consulted the author, Maurice Sendak, through-out filming. Surely the one person who knows how the film should look is the person who created the story.  If you think that ‘scary’ has no place in children’s films, particularly adaptations of children’s books, then ask yourself which is the superior version of ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’? Johnny Depp is an extraordinarily talented actor working – in that film – for an extraordinarily talented screenwriter (John August) and of course, an extraordinarily talented director, (Tim Burton) but… Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka? Absolutely the definitive version. Remember: scary in kid’s movies is a good thing.

Here’s a link to the article that broke the news: Link

Here’s a link to Amazon so you can check for yourself that, yes, it is actually a scary story and isn’t all cookies-and-cream: Link