Posts Tagged ‘Where the Wild Things Are’

Reel Guys: The best kid-friendly family movies out right now

legomoviwBy Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys

Synopsis: After enjoying big Easter and Passover meals, the Reel Guys like to treat the family to a good movie. Because there are as many different kinds of family movies as there are colours on the most psychedelic Ukrainian Easter egg, this week the guys have a look at their favourites. From the big screen to rentals for the small screen they choose movies that will put an extra hop in your step this weekend.

Richard: Mark, if you’re planning to take the kids out to the movies this weekend, there are two recent family flicks that deserve to be seen on the big screen. The Lego Movie is possibly the weirdest, most psychedelic kid’s entertainment since H.R. Pufnstuf, but it is also one of the best films of the year so far, kid’s movie or not. Then there is Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a big animated film inspired by a time travelling segment from the TV show Rocky and His Friends. It’s the only kid’s movie with an Oedipal joke and the kind of children’s movie that I think parents and kids will enjoy, but probably for completely different reasons.

Mark: Richard, so far The Lego Movie is the most exciting movie of the year, family or otherwise, but it should be noted that it, too, has a strong Oedipal theme in it. As a father of a three-year-old, I’m never quite sure what family entertainment means; what’s appropriate for my little boy is different than what might entertain an eight-year-old. Pretty much anything animated works for all ages, but then it gets complicated. And gender plays a role in choosing the right flick, too. Young girls love The Wizard of Oz, but young boys, not so much. But you never know. My little one loves Frozen, just out on DVD, even though it might seem “girly” to some.

RC: People love Frozen. I’m not one of them, but there is no arguing with the success of that movie. I’m more on side with Despicable Me II, which I thought was great fun despite its predictable plot. The story of chrome-domed former bad guy Gru’s (Steve Carell) working with the Anti-Villain League could have written itself, but the inventive gags contained within are the reason the whole family will enjoy the movie. There are lots of fun characters, but it’s really all about the Minions — Gru’s yellow, jelly-bean-shaped helpers — who spice things up with their own special kind of anarchy. Speaking in gibberish, they’re fun and more than worth the rental.

MB: Despicable Me II is a treat but my little guy deemed it “too scawy”. But I look forward to a family viewing of E.T. — the greatest family movie ever. Young or old, boys or girls, who doesn’t love the tale of that lovable little alien? Also on my eventual DVD queue would be Gremlins and even Home Alone. Kids love movies with kid heroes.

RC: Speaking of kid heroes, the adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak children’s book Where the Wild Things Are isn’t a movie for kids as much as it is a movie about being a kid. Max is the hero, a lonely kid who goes to where the wild things are. It’s a slow moving, simple film about deep feelings. It’s not a slick, brightly coloured kid’s film with a connect-the-dots plot and an easily digested moral, but it is a magical movie.

MB: I never got the appeal of the movie or the book, but maybe I’ve been missing something. But here’s an idea: Sit down with the family and watch A Hard Day’s Night. Everyone loves The Beatles, and this is the pop group in full cheeky-cute mode. Their rock songs from 1964 sound a lot like kids music today, with their melodic hooks and innocent lyrics.


where_the_wild_things_are03This adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak 1963 children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” isn’t a movie for kids as much as it is a movie about being a kid. The story of Max, a lonely kid who goes to where the wild things are, is a work of profound vision from director Spike Jonze.

The story, based on a book of only nine sentences, couldn’t be simpler. A high-spirited but lonely boy named Max (Max Records) throws a tantrum when his mother (Catherine Keener), invites her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) over. When she tries to send him to his room he bites her, flees the house and sails to an imaginary island populated by Ira (voice of Forest Whitaker), Carol (James Gandolfini), KW (Lauren Ambrose), Judith (Catherine O’Hara), The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.), Douglas (Chris Cooper) and Alexander (Paul Dano), seven make-believe giants who crown him king of the Wild Things. For the most part life is easy on the island but soon Max becomes homesick and sets out for his real home.

The end.

This is the kind of movie the Hollywood studios don’t make anymore, a slow moving simple film about deep feelings. It’s not a slick, brightly coloured kid’s film with a connect-the-dots plot and an easily digested moral.

Not much happens. There are some very arresting images. Max and Carol rolling down a sand dune, a “wild rumpus” and a dirt fight, but it’s not about the action, it’s about primal feelings, things that are either not usually touched on or glossed over in most kid’s films—sorrow, loneliness and the difficulty of growing up.

Jonze has made a beautifully emotional and simple movie, both in message and style. The dialogue is basic, almost incidental to the story, as if it was written by a kid; or at least someone who understands how kid’s think and speak. It’s uncomplicated but the cast, both human and monster, brings depth to the plain spoken script.

Max Records, in his first major film role, is understated and instinctive, holding the film together with a compelling performance. The look of the beasts has been accurately adapted from the book. They essentially look like huge Muppets with very expressive eyes. Their furry faces combined with very naturalistic voice work from Gandolfini and company bring their search for acceptance and love to life in some very unexpected ways.

“Where the Wild Things Are” is a magical film that will please the arthouse crowd but likely will leave less adventurous viewers a little perplexed. The dark, melancholy tone isn’t typical of children’s entertainment, but since this isn’t really a kid’s film that shouldn’t matter.