The XX Factor

I Want the Old Max Back

Thanks for the warning, Hanna, that the movie Where The Wild Things Are isn’t for the kids the book was written for. All the more reason for me to hold to my determination to boycott. I don’t care how whimsical and stirring critics keep saying it is. I hate the whole idea of this film, as I ranted about months ago when the trailer came out. Maurice Sendak’s Max is a deliberately two-dimensional character in a short picture book . That’s who Max should remain. I do not want a fleshed-out version with a divorced mom or a gloomy sister. Not even if - especially if - Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers are pullling the new strings. And I certainly don’t want the monsters Max meets on his imagined voyage to have back stories. The Sendak story is indelible as myth and archetype. Max represents the child who gets punished and scared and then comforts himself, as you say. The monsters are wild sketches of imagination. That is all he and they should be. When movies fill in the outlines of stories like these with details, they push out our own individually imagined renderings. I object!

Dana says in her review that the movie could have been a great 20-minute short. Maybe. Or maybe the two-minute trailer - which is pretty great, even I have to admit - was all we ever needed of a real Max on screen. It intrigues without overanswering. Unlike the movie.