Reviews are pouring in for director Spike Jonze’s much-anticipated adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, which opens today in the U.S. The film is sitting on 71% at Rotten Tomatoes, a reasonably high score but it’s pretty clear even at this early stage that it’s not going to be a smash hit with critics. Below are snippets from some reviews.
On the positive:
“For all the money spent, the film’s success is best measured by its simplicity and the purity of its innovation. Jonze has filmed a fantasy as if it were absolutely real, allowing us to see the world as Max sees it, full of beauty and terror.”
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone (full review)
“The result is an involving experience for all but the most fidgety children and an opportunity for parents to enjoy (rather than endure) a motion picture with their offspring.”
James Berardinelli, ReelViews (full review)
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“With Sendak’s blessing, and with the aid of writer Dave Eggers, who teamed on the screenplay, Jonze has transformed the iconic picture book into a satisfyingly moody, melancholy, madcap live-action romp.”
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer (full review)
“The beasts are recognizable from Sendak’s pages, but Jonze gives them names and distinct personalities that connect to aspects of Max’s psyche and to the people he loves. (Freud would adore this movie.) ”
Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine (full review)
“I can’t speak for the kids, but I would rate Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s 40-page children’s picture book up there with Up and Wall•E as topping the recent renaissance in children’s movies.”
Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix (full review)
On the negative:
“Director Spike Jonze’s sharp instincts and vibrant visual style can’t quite compensate for the lack of narrative eventfulness that increasingly bogs down this bright-minded picture.”
Todd McCarthy, Variety (full review)
“Jonze has produced a gorgeous $80 million Muppet Movie in the shape of an art film that will bore kids as much as it will depress adults.”
Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net (full review)
“Something doesn’t quite jell, and no matter how gorgeous each set piece is, it doesn’t always entirely add up to a complete and satisfying narrative. I couldn’t help but think, from time to time, how on earth were these guys allowed to make this movie?”
Sara Vilkomerson, New York Observer (full review)
“I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy?”
David Denby, New Yorker (full review)
Where the Wild Things Are will hit Australian screens December 10. Read my post discussing the trailer here.