Where the Wild Things Are 2009

Critics score:
73 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

A.O. Scott, At the Movies: These monsters that are made of costumes with CGI faces and voiced by these wonderful actors, they're just as real and as complicated as the real people. Read more

Scott Von Doviak, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com: Aimlessly trudging through woods or desert, sniping and clawing at each other, Carol and his fellow wild things come to resemble the H.R. Pufnstuf crew on downers. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: There's a certain amount of pain in Where the Wild Things Are, but it's completely earned. The movie fills you with all sorts of feelings, and I suspect children will recognize those feelings as their own. Read more

James Rocchi, MSN Movies: "Where the Wild Things Are" is a great film because, for all of its wonder and magic and delight, it also knows about confusion and reality and sadness. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: Where the Wild Things Are is an alternately perfect and imperfect if always beautiful adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children's book. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: Instead of being bombarded by computer illusions, we're allowed to suspend our disbelief, to bring our own imaginations into play. For all the artfulness, the feel of the film is rough-hewn, almost primitive. It's a fabulous tree house of a movie. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Where the Wild Things Are honors the book in every imaginable way, and in ways no one could have imagined until Spike Jonze and his collaborators came along. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: Some children, I think, will love this film, some will find it frightening, and some will be bored. Adults, likely, will experience it the same way. Read more

Josh Modell, AV Club: Spike Jonze has recently said in interviews that his chief goal in adapting Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are was to try to capture the feeling of being 9. By that measure -- by just about any measure, really -- he succeeded wildly. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: There is some real magic here. But there is also the feeling that something's missing, that Max's journey isn't quite complete; the dour mood of the monsters doesn't help. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: The movie is a wild thing, and that's not such a bad thing at all. Read more

Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine: It looks like a punk home movie, and it's exactly what we need-a reminder that Max isn't just a spooky kid who goes berserker in a crane stance; he's a sweaty, snotty, panting, aggravating animal whose legs (and emotions) pump faster than any adult's Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: A fairly beguiling screen experience, though by the end of its 101 minutes I was definitely ready for bed. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: This blend of the real and unreal is successful because Jonze's feeling for childhood binds everything together. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Spike Jonze, we salute you. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Intellectually interesting, visually arresting and filled with invention, there's just one crucial thing Where the Wild Things Are is missing: wildness. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Profoundly beautiful and affecting, Where the Wild Things Are is a breath-
taking act of artistic transubstantiation. Read more

Eric D. Snider, Film.com: The film is lacking as a whole -- it's individual moments and scenes that make it worth seeing. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: Sometimes you are better off with 10 sentences than tens of millions of dollars, and this is one of those times. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: Jonze and Eggers have added a lot without betraying a thing. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: The film lacks the menace and danger of Sendak's book, along with the beautiful simplicity and delicated, understated portrait of a lonely, misunderstood boy. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Jonze and Eggers have a firm grasp on the way a child's joy can quickly turn to tears, but they squeeze hard and can't let go. The film is essentially a parade of negative emotions -- sorrow, anger, jealousy, regret. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy? Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: It's a qualified pleasure, now, to say that the movie is not a disaster -- in fact, parts of it are miraculous -- and that it is still, very much, a Spike Jonze movie. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: The film treats kids' inner lives as more than a fantasy, which is a rare and beautiful thing. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: Some very good books were just never meant to be turned into movies. Sadly, you can now add Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic Where the Wild Things Are to that list. Read more

Sara Vilkomerson, New York Observer: 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? Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: As a children's film, it's a bore. And as a grand film enterprise, Where the Wild Things Are skirts the line between folly and fiasco. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: 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. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: 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. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: The plot is simple stuff, spread fairly thin in terms of events but portentous in terms of meaning. It comes down to: What is right? -- a question that children often seek answers to. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: 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. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com: Jonze's ideas, visual and otherwise, spill out in a faux-philosophical ramble that isn't nearly as deep as he thinks it is; at best, it's a scrambled tone poem. Even the look of the picture becomes tiresome after a while. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Where the Wild Things Are is audacious in its refusal to be reassuring, which makes it hard to love, but also hard to dismiss. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Jonze and Eggers' approach to the book is both original and well-intentioned; it's clear that they take both Sendak and childhood seriously (though not as seriously as they take themselves). It's just too bad the end result isn't a better movie. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: In an era glutted with sanitized, prefabricated, computer-generated kids' stuff, this is an experience of sophisticated cross-generational appeal. It digs deep into childhood's bright, manic exuberance and also its confusion and gloom. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: To their credit, the creative team has retained the handmade look and unruly spirit of Maurice Sendak's bedtime fable; to their discredit, they haven't added enough narrative or emotional dimension to make it an effective movie. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: Wild Things, you do not make my heart sing. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: It's a joy for thinking moviegoers of any age. It doesn't seek to "keep out all the sadness," yet neither does it wallow in gloom. Instead it presents childhood as a journey filled with things both wonderful and fearful, and ultimately all of the mind. Read more

Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine: 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.) Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: Read more

Ben Walters, Time Out: 'Where the Wild Things Are' stands out for its unusually potent evocation of the timbre of childhood imagining, with its combination of the outre and the banal, grand schemes jumbled up with delicate feelings and the urge to smash things up. Read more

Christopher Orr, The New Republic: Where the Wild Things Are may not be a great film for children (or, at least, most children). But it is something rarer still: a great, and unsparing, film about childhood. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Where the Wild Things Are is a fiercely innovative film with surprising texture and nuance. It captures the joy and exuberance of childhood without shying away from its very real pains and woes. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: 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. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: Wild Things isn't overlong, but it is underwhelming. Read more