A bigger sign of trouble though is that the magical world of the wild things is far from magical. Wild Things belongs to the same genre as troubled child fantasies like The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia. But, while those transported their young heroes to lands sprung colorfully from fertile imaginations, Wild Things drops Max in the midst of indistinguishable beasts throwing one long tantrum.
You know something’s amiss in a fantasy movie when you find yourself longing for the characters to return home, because home had been so much more interesting and evocative. Wild Things is like leaving the wonderful world of Oz behind after 15 minutes to spend the rest of the movie wallowing with the pigs in the dreary land of Kansas.
I suppose Jonze was covering his bases when he said in interviews that his movie isn’t for children, but rather it is a movie about childhood. But what a strange miscalculation to make a movie based on a beloved children’s book in such a way that it alienates children.
During my matinee screening, there was a family of four sitting in front of me. The dad kept nervously glancing at his silent kids. Finally, halfway through the movie, they laughed. Even louder though was the dad’s sigh of relief.