Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Where are the Wild Things Going?

posted by Nell Minow

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.) wherethewildthingsaremtv.thumbnail.jpg
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.

  • jestrfyl

    After a focus group has made its comments, the committees that form to revise a film rarely does well. The filmmakers vision is usually the best and to muddle with it in the interest of commercial viability is a bad idea. It will be interesting to see how he folks, who make some fialry esoteric stuff, chose to protray he characters, but even more, the story.

  • Aaron K

    I have been following this for awhile now and I think this is going to go down in cinema history as one of the most disheartening losses of a film ever. The whole spirit of this production seemed to be that, at the end of the day, you would have something that wasn’t going into the landfill 5 minutes after it’s released. Who knows what we might have had if only they would leave their hands off it. Why does every movie have to be dreck? I would say boycott the final release if they are in fact reshooting the whole thing. Sad stuff.

  • Mary Keeley

    Darn! Love this book–my baby–now a 36 year old Dad and high school
    vice principal, took this book with him to COLLEGE!!! He forgot his alarm clock, but took his “Wild Things!”
    Was looking forward to this as well. Where have the brains gone?
    I mean, there are so really good children’s films out–some animated ones are fun–but this book has such meaning–such good lessons! Even Sendak said it was one of his very favorites!
    Ah, well, and we get stuck with drek like “Mr. Magoriam’s Magic Emporium”,could’ve written a better screenplay myself–and maybe I will!

  • summer

    Hopefully they won’t butcher the book. I really hope so. And by the way Michel Gondry directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Summer! Of course you are right and I’ve fixed it.

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