It seemed almost too good to be true. One of the best children’s books of the 20th century, Where the Wild Things Are, written and directed by Maurice Sendak, was going to be made into a movie written and directed by two extraordinarily sensitive and imaginative men, director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) and writer Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). The style is a combination of actors, giant puppets (remember the puppets in Jonze’s “Being John Malcovich?”) and computer-generated graphics. Sendak worked with them as a consultant.
Yes, there was a concern that expanding the book’s 338 perfect words into a feature-length screenplay could be disastrous. Think about Dr. Seuss and “The Cat in the Hat.” But I had faith in Jonze and Eggers and New York Magazine, which obtained a copy of the script, was reassuring, calling it “filled with richly imagined psychological detail, and the screenplay for this live-action film simply becomes a longer and more moving version of what Maurice Sendak’s book has always been at heart: a book about a lonely boy leaving the emotional terrain of boyhood behind.” (I stopped reading after that; I didn’t want to spoil anything.)
Now the bad news. The $75 million film’s studio has ordered extensive reshoots. Release has been pushed back to 2009. There are rumors of bringing in another team to redo the film. I hope we get to see the version Jonze, Eggers, and Sendak created.