All parent member reviews for Where the Wild Things Are

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(out of 182 reviews)
age 8+
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Adult Written byredsxfenway January 31, 2010

Should remain unseen

**** Mild spoilers ahead**** This was one of my favorite books as a child and one of my least favorite movies as college student. To those who know Jonze, it's not surprise the way the film ended up. It's angst-ridden and filled with light easy-listening indie pop music. I'm not one for nostalgia but this film utterly failed to capture the spirit of the book. It seems like Maurice Sendak, who was involved in the making of the film, forgot what he wrote more than 35 years ago. The book had a story of adventure and freedom, while the film is overly-dramatic, filled with almost constant sadness. There's nothing wrong with a film departing from the book its based on, but this film is a poor one even in a vacuum. The constant sorrow in the film takes away from what could be a very touching scene of Max leaving the island. Because the characters are so sad throughout the film, there's no real change in emotion in the final scene. Jonze puts the monsters in constant conflict with each other, back and forth between love and hate and it gets tiresome very quickly. However it is incredibly beautiful and the animation/puppetry is stunning. Children will likely be frightened by the violent interactions and probably turned off by the slow pace and dialogue that will likely be over their heads.
Adult Written byBookMomToo April 16, 2010

BEST MOVIE of the decade!!!

My children all loved the book, and grew up listening to all of Maurice Sendak's books over and over upon request. I am not usually one to go to the movies, my forte is reading. My oldest son saw the movie, he is a sophmore in college, and told me I needed to see it. He confided that he cried. It has taken me months and months to getting around to finally seeing it, and I can't begin to say enough WONDERFUL things about it!!! What I don't understand is the gloom and doom reviews it was given with so much talk about how scary it was. Personally I think it was incredibly thought provoking and insightful in portraying childhood in all its glory. I would have no problem showing it to any child five and up as it was not Hollywood violent and the subject matter, language, and visuals are all appropriate.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byThe Tim K October 21, 2009

Lazy and uninvolved parents leave your kids at home; the good parents take their kids

This movie is not for lazy parents. Uninvolved parents should leave their kids home. You are dead wrong if you think you can take your children to this movie without talking with them before, maybe during, and definitely after. The messages around lonliness are very powerful. The messages are around family, love, caring about's really about Emotional Intelligence. And these messages are very complex, intimate, moving, and nuanced. The cinematography is intense and the directing is just odd enough to shake up the "normal" way that movies try to show personal connections. There is real value in this movie. You can teach your children to develop their own values with this movie. Just do it actively. If you're lazy with your kids, then don't take them until they're 16.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 8 year old Written byYlonen Fam October 23, 2009
I took my 8 yr old step-son to this movie for his birthday. We had been reading about it and knew that it wasn't really a "kids" movie but we still wanted to see what it was about. I personally loved it, with a 8 yr old that has been through many issues with his mother and some anger problems this move was perfect! It showed him that he was not alone when he felt certain ways. I also loved the way that dialogue was meant for kids, it helped him to get into it more. I think this is a great movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written bySoftball mom February 23, 2011
This movie was just a nightmare. I regret having taken my kids to see it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byCSMomBB October 23, 2009
I don't understand all the negative reaction to this movie. It is a good movie--even though it is not the typical shiny, happy movie for kids--we have enough of those. I've seen many comments on what a violent movie it was. There was only one iffy scene (the arm scene). I thought the interaction between the characters was wonderful. The movie didn't wrap everything up in a nice tidy package at the end either. It made you think. And, different people can have different ideas of what the movie meant to them. I enjoyed taking my kids to a movie that made them question and think about things afterwards. While I wouldn't say that my 9 & 12 year old kids loved it, they did say that they liked it and thought it was different. And, I think different is a good thing.
Parent of a 17 year old Written bymeatloaf November 13, 2009
For all the artistry of the costumes, the acting and overall excellence of the camera and scenic work, the violence inherent in Where the Wild Things Are is overwhelming, disquieting and off putting. The Director missed the mark of translating a subtle, wonderfully imaginative book into a film. Instead it belongs in the Horror Section of the local video store. In my opinion, Jonze betrayed the spirit of the book. When reading the original text, even with the accompanying pictures, our minds are invited to fill in the open spaces. We can imagine and sustain our own idea of how scary Max's situation is, quite a lot or just a little, depending on our life experience of violence, anger, pain or neglect. But in this film, the director has ir-responsibly presented a level of violence way beyond what most adults or children can or want to imagine. The book, Where The Wild Things Are has been serving the needs of children and adults/parents for decades. Using anger, frustration, kid vs adult worlds and all the associated psychological trappings, it explores and maps out valuable territory for how to be a human being. The malleability of the original story to suit the readers needs is what makes it popular. The crisis Max goes through and his resolution of it is deliberately vague, slightly unearthly and imaginative. We go with Max willingly because we are in control of how scary the adventure will ultimately be. In the film, the overall scary factor has been heightened so much it overwhelms the characters, confusing what they represent. Max and the Monsters have terrifying interactions that nail viewers to their seats with countless dark, frightening images. The dialog wanders over the emotive landscape but never lands, and strange unexplained connections lead us to nowhere. All of it together makes an uneasy, unresolved story. Jonze either didn't understand or ignored the subtlety of the books nature. Instead he pounds us with ‘his' idea of what scary is and leaves literally nothing to our imaginations. With this film, we are not in control, Jonze is and his imagination is horrifying. I wouldn't want to be with him on a cold, dark, windy night.. The saddest aspect of the release of the film is that parents will think it's intended to be seen by children, associating it's title with the book That is a fatal error. This is not a childrens film, nor an adult film really. There's no room to breath, imagine and have any fun. It's Jones' private nightmare and I wish I'd not paid to see it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byMomMower November 6, 2009

Weird - Bad role model in Max - save your $$$ - NOT the story in the book.

This movie has disobedient Max doing things that my children don't do, so right away, the main character is modeling bad behavior rather than being a positive role model for impressionable kids at this age. Throwing things, trashing his sister's room, disrespecting and disobeying his mother, biting her, being defiant in general, then running away, all are not something that I want my kids to do. It did provide some good talking points after the movie, such as how angry Carol was, and how mean Julia was. Then again, Max had a sweet side, and his stressed-out mother did spend some quality time with him, which was nice. I felt really sorry for his life! Where was his dad? I was disappointed in the darkness of the movie, and it seemed to drag on. My son wanted to leave because he said it was "boring". I would not see it again, it does not seem to be for kids. Max's personality disorders and Carol's mental health issues clearly are not "normal" and kids this age can't comprehend, nor should they be exposed to such strange behavior.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written bybensara91513 October 17, 2009
Where the Wild Things Are was a Caldecott Medal winning children's book. It has been read by you children for decades. It is a favorite. That's why this movie was such a shocker. As an adult, I could appreciate this movie. It had some poignant messages, and I cannot say that there was no truth to the movie. But it was just waaaaay too heavy. Scary? The scary element of this movie did not even phase my children. My 5 year old was crying before Max even ran away, because she was sad about how lonely he felt. My 7 year old handled it a little better, but he had tears in his eyes too. It was just a sad SAD movie. Max was heart wrenchingly sad and lonely. The Wild Things were mostly very bleak--and downright nasty to one another and to Max. There are some serious passive aggressive tendencies in a couple of the Wild Things. I know it's art. I know life is not all sunshine and lollipops. But I would really have appreciated knowing how dark the subject matter was going to be before going. The previews that I saw showed nothing of the darkness--just beloved scenes from the books. And the monsters--the were visually stunning. My kids found nothing scary in the way they looked. What was frightening was their bleak behavior and their meanness toward each other. If I had any inkling of the intense emotions that were going to be covered in this movie, I would not have taken the kids. I might have gone to see it myself, but I would not have brought my children. But because I thought, children's book would equal children's movie, I took them, and as a result, my 5 year old cried for almost an hour and a half straight. (We did not leave, because I thought NOT seeing Max get home would be even more traumatic.) And I paid god money for the priviledge.
Parent Written byTrails2Ocean March 24, 2012

Bizarre depressing movie

Freakishly weird, depressing movie. Hated it, kids hated it, not recommended!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byBishop Loves Gir September 27, 2011

WHAT THE..........

I did not like this is dark and creepy.Parents will be bored and kids will be frightened.a kid runs away,a chickens arm is pulled off and more.also a boy bites his mom
Adult Written byclassictaste November 27, 2010

Boring, even to a 2 year old.

Most boring, no plot or character development - and almost just no plot - movie I think I've ever seen. Pure exploitation of just taking a kids' book - which has little plot or substance to it anyway compared to almost any other children's literature, and is significant only for its fairly ugly drawings - and making a movie out of it, by drawing it out for 90 min, or whatever its length was, with a bunch of non-directional,unsubstantial mucking around that really is about on the level of what a boring and untalented 4-6 year old would make up, addilng in some more interesting costumes and a llittle stupid humming music, and knowing that the public will go see it anyway and reviewers will rave about it because it is a kids' book. A self fulfilling profit prophecy. About as "creative" and interesting as a bunch of bored teenagers hanging around and throwing bottles at a wall to break them because they can't think of anything else to do. That's the plot. Amazingly, Sendak seemed to have a hand in producing this, which makes me think even less of his book than I did before.
Parent Written byChatanoogaChooChoo September 6, 2010

Not a good movie, not a good childrens movie.

I don't like this movie from either a artistic standpoint, nor for the sake of a child. First of all artistically the movie goes nowhere, and very slowly. The high points are violence, anger, and smashing things, and the low points are absolute silence (the boring kind). Really, nothing happens in this movie. If it weren't for the giant hairy monsters and the total lack of adults in the wild thing land, children would not be kept amused whatsoever. This was a great book, but a horrible movie. Max, the assumed protagonist, is absolutely childish and spoiled. He's got a very overactive imagination, which gets him into trouble. He bites his mom! (idk about you but I can certainly imagine children across the world laughing at that, scary right?) The way this kid acts I really wouldn't be surprised if he grew up with emotional issues. His best friend is also childish, jealous, paranoid, and takes things for granted. Not a very good role model. All of the wild things have a very "devil may-care" attitude, they act almost like half zombie in their speech and roles in the movies. They are all very quick to anger. There is a theme of distruction, and the emotional themes of this movie are totally and completely missed by children, There isn't a way they can comprehend. Considering that the original book is very old, I'm assuming that the target audience is adults, who grew up with the book, and not children who are reading it now.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent of a 11 year old Written bymotheroftwoboys July 28, 2010

Not a good movie

My 11year old thought this was the worst movie he had ever seen. I agree, it was weird and often didn't make sense. Don't waste your time.
Parent of a 2, 5, and 9 year old Written bytooka July 26, 2010

Adults who know better might stomach this one

The darkness of Max's selfishness is never frowned upon. His mother is framed as a weak when Max's disrespect is condoned. I would not let me kids(9,5,2) see this movie.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 7 year old Written bykvpm June 14, 2010
This movie was nothing like what I expected. I grew up with the book and love the book. The family life of Max was filled with drama and misbehavior (more than I'd have expected). The "wild things" were scary and violent. I do not recommend it for children.
Parent of a 8 year old Written byrachel4missions June 8, 2010

would not recommend

They turned a cute book about a kid's active imagination into a terrifying set of hallucinations by a sociopathic and possibly schizophrenic little boy. He bites his mom, destroys his sister's things, runs out of the house into the street and woods, attacks his clearly upset dog with a FORK, and various other horrible things that weren't in the book. The movie is scary and I would definitely not let most kids under their tweens watch it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written byhurricane1963 May 27, 2010
Just a dark, confusing, violent movie. Nothing particulary good about it. The message is confusing even to an adult at times. At one point Carol rips of the arm of one of the other Wild Things and sand pours out. He later tries to make it up by sticking a branch on in place of the missing arm. My family was ready for a nice story that expanded on the book, and instead we found it difficult to follow or understand, dark and with no real plot. The only message my 8 and 11 year old got from it was that no matter how horribly you behave your mom still loves you. All the characters were pretty one dimensional. All in all we all hated it.
Parent of a 9 year old Written byMatthewsStepMom May 14, 2010
This is NOT a kid's movie. Our 9 year old requested we turn it off early in the movie when the character, Max, throws a major tantrum and bites his mother. Our son had enough at that point. We finished watching it after he went to bed and we were sorely disappointed - it was way too dark and loaded with negative emotions.
Parent of a 10 year old Written bylisa4406 May 11, 2010

The Most Terrible and Depressing Movie Around.

My daughter is 10 years old and we borrowed this movie from a friend. Thank goodness we did not buy it, we both kept watching up to about the 1/2 way point waiting for some type of positive moment. My daughter was done after 20 minutes. We only watched half of this terrible movie. The behavior Max displays towards his family in the beginning of this film is abhorent and I found it disturbing. Max needs major therapy and must have some disorder. The monsters were all depressing and there was not plot or story line. The most terrible movie I have seen in the last 2 years.
What other families should know
Too much violence