Parents' Guide to

Where the Wild Things Are

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Sometimes-dark adaptation focuses on friendship, loneliness.

Movie PG 2009 100 minutes
Where the Wild Things Are Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 9+

Based on 200 parent reviews

age 18+

Bad Behavior

How does anyone think this movie is okay for any age? Both my kids hated the movie and didn't want to finish it. It really bothered them. Through out the entire movie Max and the monsters destroy other peoples property with no consequences for their unkind behavior. Max has horrible selfish behavior throughout. At the start of the movie he has a tantrum, runs to his sisters room, makes a mess in her room by bring in a snow from outside and breaks some of her things. Mom realizes what he has done and proceeds to clean up his mess without giving him any consequences for his rude selfish behavior. In one scene a monster tears off the arm of another monster and sand starts spewing out of the severed limb. These things are done out of anger and not just joking around. That is NOT OKAY! There is a scene where Max and the Monsters are hurling dirt clods at each other in a war and they aim for the heads and really knock each other hard and are destructive and it turns into an angry fight. At the end one monster has a wound and is moping because he was injured during this very destructive way of "playing". Max's adventure starts after he has a trantrum in house because his mother has a guest (she is a working single mother), bites his mother on the shoulder and runs out into the night with her chasing after him. At the end of the movie he casually returns home, she hugs him and gives him a big bowl of food and a giant piece of chocolate cake. That's it! She didn't talk to him about his behavior and give him parenting about how you can't physically harm another person when you are angry nor is it ever safe or okay to run away from home. The ONLY thing we liked about the movie was the beautiful fort they build that one monster proceeds to try to destroy because he is angry, jealous and his feelings are hurt. I would not recommend this movie to anyone.
age 11+

Gross, Boring, Awful.

I recently went to my friend's house for a movie night and had to sit through two hours of this. Here's what I need to say: - There is basically no story - The messages are terrible ( Hate frozen corn? BITE YOUR MOM'S ARM AND RUN AWAY.) - There are VERY gross parts (The girl chicken creature thing stuffs the kid in her mouth and then we get to see him lying in her gross pinkish stomach. Gross.) - It's pointless and boring - I had to constantly see the main character break stuff, hurt people, mess stuff up, lie, etc. You call that a 'lesson'? I can't believe people say nice things about this movie. I understand the level of work in it but honestly, who would want to see this movie!? DON'T. WATCH. It's a waste of time.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (200 ):
Kids say (124 ):

Usually, beloved children's books are adapted with a kiddie audience in mind, but this movie isn't for young kids. It's a leisurely paced, literary film that makes you reflect on the exuberance and sadness of being a child. The Wild Things are indeed a wild bunch -- they smash things and claim to have eaten all of their other kings -- but they're also a broody, sarcastic, touchy clan wrestling with jealousy (Carol hates that KW is friends with two owls, Terry and Bob), isolation (Alex feels ignored), and misunderstandings (KW wants everyone to get along). It's not all rumpus-making, sleeping in a pile, and dirt-clot fights for King Max.

Visually, Where the Wild Things Are is beautifully simple, whether it's a heartbreaking close-up of a teary-eyed Max or an expansive shot of the Wild Things' island. It's amazing how perfectly Sendak's monsters come to life and how perfectly newcomer Records plays the spirited and vulnerable Max. He truly shines, especially acting opposite Keener, Gandolfini, and Ambrose. And the excellent voice cast, who actually rehearsed together, makes you forget you're watching CGI-enhanced 9-foot puppets. The movie's evocative soundtrack, composed by Carter Burrell and Karen O. (frontwoman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) switches from playful to eerie to jubilant to frightening, and it's a spot-on accompaniment to Max's journey. This isn't a movie you cuddle with the kids over, the way you do with the book. It is, however, an artful, touching text on the magical but at times lonely nature of childhood.

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