Sometimes you just know that the voice of supporters is going to be particularly vocal. This is especially true when you upset those sporting corduroy jackets over t-shirts and black plastic frame glasses. Naturally, this is one of those circumstances.
Max (Max Records) is a pre-teen whose only concern is his own very active imagination. The heck with his sister and her friends; he wants to start a snowball fight. Forget that mom has work to do; it’s time to make up a nonsense story to entertain her. Without anyone to play with at all hours, Max is fed up and takes off down the street. His voyage away from home is made all the more extreme when he boards a small boat and sails the ocean. Before getting too bored, he lands at an island populated by large furry creatures, the Wild Things.
I’m going to be making some comparisons to The NeverEnding Story, a vastly superior film; deal with it. Both are based on books of imagination, though the older film is based on a novel as opposed to the recent film’s picture book. Both involve a youthful boy with said active imagination, and the boy somehow loses himself in it despite adults wanting him to grow-up. Bastion, the Max equivalent in The NeverEnding Story, is lonely and bullied. There isn’t any evidence to suggest that he annoys anyone. His trek into fantasy has a purpose driving the story of that land as well as his reality. The theatrical score (US release composed by Giorgio Moroder) is powerful and defines every setting. By comparison, Max is a jerk in need of a psyche ward, his fantasy world is boring, and the music is loaded undesirable children chants.
Not only do I not care a lick about Max, but all the inhabitants of the island are drabber than Ben Stein. We gain very little insight into their world. There is a brief moment where they want to eat Max, but after this we never see them chew on anything. Do they need food to survive? That’s a question that is usually answered when a small book is expanded into a feature length film. So after they decide not to dine ala Max, they anoint him king. This occurs in the book but the lack of explanation there is more pleasing than a conversion regarding Max’s powers. Since he brings up the subject and fails to demonstrate it, I was left me more bewildered than simply cutting to the chase.
The only likeable aspects of the film are technical. The Jim Henson Creature Shop provides costumes and as you’d expect they don’t disappoint. I had a difficult time deciphering if I was viewing animatronics on the Wild Things or CGI, confusion on this end is always welcome. As for the story, I was as lost as Max. Was there a point to this, maybe a moral? I felt a “no place like home” kinda vibe but that doesn’t get you anywhere in the real world. Furthermore the hour plus of padding is tragically shallow. I remember being Max’s age, and I’ll tell that even then it was more fun to pointlessly frolic outdoors than watch someone else do it. **