Friday, October 16, 2009

Where Aren't the Wild Things?

Where the Wild Things Are - Trailer

Spike Jonze's film version of Maurice Sendak's best loved children's book Where the Wild Things Are hits theaters today. Target market: me! My heart aches with anticipation and reverence every time I see a WTWTA commercial featuring the familiar monsters accompanied by an Arcade Fire soundtrack. Hollywood has successfully marketed the marriage of my favorite childhood book, one of the best "indie" directors ever, and my favorite indie music (the film's soundtrack also features original music by Miss Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The fact that I have not yet seen the film but have been touting it's creation and release as the most exciting event to ever happen only lays claim to it's ingenious marketing prowess. You can imagine what my plans will be this evening...

The popularity of Where the Wild Things Are cannot be denied even by those who don't love it as well as I. The WTWTA franchise has emerged with renewed success. The book was originally written by Sendak in the 1960's, but t-shirts bearing the illustrations, WTWTA-themed Easter baskets, and many other homages have been popping up in mass production over the past ten years. With the impending release of the film, such product placement has increased tenfold. I was able to reread the children's classic when I plucked it from the other WTWTA paraphanelia on prominent special display at my nearby Hollywood Video.

Although the original book (and Easter baskets) are made for an audience of children, almost all the reviews I've read of the movie -- including in today's Journal Sentinel-- make it clear the film was not made with a child audience foremost in mind. It appears to be made more for adults with either a love of fantastical film or a strong sense of nostalgia and indie principles. How Jonze has taken a ten sentence children's book and turned it into a full length "emotional masterpiece" for a more adult crowd, I have yet to find out. But I, for one, am sold.

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