Where the Wild Things Are: Kids eat it up, they love it so.

After weeks of hand-wringing over whether kids could handle the emotional intensity in Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers’ big screen adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, I decided to conduct my own unscientific study and see how my own two sons reacted to the movie. Don’t worry, this is not a Sally Mann-ish experiment, where I threw my kids into a potentially scarring situation for my own professional benefit. I vetted WTWTA first, and figured they could handle the sad-eyed beasts battling the sorrow of the loneliness of existence. That’s life, isn’t it? And any attempt to cover that up is subterfuge and a set-up for a rude awakening down the road.

My real worry going into last night’s screening was that movie is a slow-moving poem to childhood confusion and it was a total crap-shoot as to whether my five-year-old, Huck, would make it through the first act. I also brought along my fifteen-year-old, Ethan, who has always loved the book and had even met Maurice Sendak a couple times when he was baby and his dad worked for his production company. The stakes were pretty high, all around.

Things weren’t looking good about ten minutes in, when Huck wondered aloud why he didn’t have a bucket of popcorn on his lap like all the other kids around him, dammit. My bad. Problem solved. Then, to my surprise, he sat there rapt through the next forty minutes, watching as Max runs away from home, hooks up with a band of bickering Wild Things so neurotic, they make Larry David seem like a zen monk by comparison. About an hour in, when Carol flew into one of his jealous rages, my heart fell when Ethan pulled the collar of t-shirt over his head and started texting friends. But Huck, surprisingly, was still all in. In fact, he probably would have made it through the whole movie without complaint if he hadn’t started jonesing aloud for a cheeseburger during the scene when Max was getting slimed inside K.W.’s mouth. Still, Huck hung in until the credits rolled. Ethan, sadly, was still tented inside his shirt, lit up by his led light like a jack-o-lantern.

Afterward, Huck said he loved everything about the movie, especially the part where Max braves the wild seas in his tiny sailboat. If Max had that much moxy, then maybe he could, too. Oh, and the forts were awesome. Ethan, it turns out, had read the book so many times, that, at fifteen, it was still so alive in his imagination: He had no patience for the liberties the filmmakers’ took to expand it into a feature. “It looked cool, but why did they have to bring in all that extra stuff,” he scoffed. “It’s like when I’m bullshitting to fill out my page count on an essay.”

Okay, so I guess the upshot here might be that this is one movie that works best for kids young enough to give themselves over to the emotional storminess of childhood and people old enough to look back romantically on all that chaos. Okay, PopWatchers, are you buying my arm-chair analysis WTWTA‘s kid-friendliness? Since the movie has already made $32.4 million this weekend, some of you must have taken your kids. What was their response? Would you recommend it to your friends with kids?

More on Where the Wild Things Are from EW:
Box Office Report: Wild Things Is king with $32.5 million
Where the Wild Things Are: Nervous when beloved books are made into movies?
Where the Wild Things Are: EW review

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  • A. Murphy

    I took my 4 year old to Where The Wild Things Are and he sat quietly, watching intently for the entire movie.

    The only times he became concerned, was when there was conflict between Max and ‘ real people.

    I’m glad I took him, as we both enjoyed the movie.

    I hope the movie does really well.

    • Mary Mactavish

      I saw it during a late afternoon matinee. About a third of the people in the theater were children from age ~4 to ~12. The audience was SILENT through out. No “what did he say?” or “I want to go home” or “my brother’s poking me” or even “I have to go to the bathroom.” Not a peep. The movie managed to engross a room full of kids from one end to the other — and me, too.

      • David

        Oh wow! Now that’s an accomplishment!
        I haven’t seen it yet, but I hope to this weekend!

    • sarah

      my four year old lasted about ten minutes

  • Carol

    Why on Earth would you allow your children to text during a movie???? What a great example you are setting for other parents and their kids!

    • Heather

      Amen to that. Seriously?

    • Elise

      Oh brother,

      It’s not like the parent snuck the kids in through the back door. OMG OMG OMG TEXTING IN A THEATER! NOOOOOOO!

      • Sculliosis

        Have you ever had someone text in front of you in a theatre? Its effing annoying. At least he did it under his shirt.

      • Eric

        Sneaking someone in at least doesn’t RUIN THE MOVIE FOR EVERYONE!

        You probably comment on how stupid people are during horror movies to make yourself feel smart.

      • Dan

        Hey Elise, texting is even worse than someone sneaking in the back door. It certainly costs the theatre more in passes for people complaining about it after the movie. And who knows how much theatres have lost in business because of behavior like this keeping people away. The reviewer should teach her kid to respect others.

      • alexandra

        seriously, amen to that. phones OFF during movies. no texting. no talking (had someone do that next to me last week, um seriously? are you a brain surgeon on call? no? then SHUT THE EFF UP).

        it’s like people have become incapable of being quiet for an hour and a half. pathetic. and i don’t care that he had his shirt over his head – it’s a nice attempt, but yeah…NO. this is why netflix is so popular. you don’t have to pay 12 bucks to sit next to some as$hat who can’t be quiet (and yes, i realize kids are different, but still. teach them young to not be disrespectful moviegoers).

    • dan

      Totally agree. All devices should be turned off during the movie. “Lit up like a jackolantern”? That sounds even more distracting. Sounds like yet another foul-mouthed spoiled brat. Nice parenting.

      • joybell

        Do you really let your fifteen year old speak like that.. “It’s like when I’m bullshi++ing to fill out my page count on an essay.”
        Nice parenting indeed. And to think you actually put that in print on the internet so now the entire world can see what a fantastic parent you are.

  • where the wild things lag

    this was the worst movie ever. i took 8 kids to it for a birthday party ages ranges 5-11, plus 2 adults. save your money. there must be a corporate hollwood conspiracy by the reviewers b/c this was horrible.

    • The Wild Thing

      Well clearly your crew was full of moronic pseudo-kids who never learned to reflect on anything quietly, maybe you should have just rented them a copy of BRATZ and gone upstairs.

    • Lauren

      If you want to take a group of children to a movie, WATCH IT FIRST.

      • Mac

        Lauren’s right. Taking a bunch of kids to the movie require’s going to see it for yourself first. Not a very bright idea.

      • JasonHomey

        This is hilarious. Who in their right mind has the time of day to go see a movie before you take your kids to see it, let alone paying for the movie twice. You must have nothing better to do with your time. Me, i take a group to see the movie. If they liked it, great. If not, we still killed several hours.

    • Q

      I love hyperbole.

      • JenR

        It is the best thing ever!

      • Oz

        I never make it past superbowl

    • Tom Boutell

      I find my daughter’s capacity to behave maturely is inversely related to the number of other ten-year-olds present. This is a contemplative movie, and kids can grok that… if they aren’t in an echo chamber of immaturity. Got a roomful of kids? Give them something way less cerebral and just try to keep the bloodshed to a minimum. (:

      • rja112

        I would second this thought

    • jared

      You’ve obviously only seen about 2 movies in your life… Trust me there’s a lot of junk out there, and Where the Wild Things Are does not qualify. You are a moron.

  • Luis

    To be fair, his son Ethan was not disrespectful to him. He was merely communicating with his father. HOWEVER, texting in a theater: BIG FAT NO!!!!!

    • Luis

      I meant mother, sorry.

      • Eric Henwood-Greer

        Haha funny I didn’t even think about the texting, just was shocked that he would say “bullshit” to his mother. lol

  • Das Boot

    Def not for the real fans of the book, it wasn’t that good. If you have never read the book (first go read it), then you should enjoy it.

  • Chill out.

    hahaha multipass CHILL OUT. have you ever known/had a 15 year old boy? maybe you should calm down and quit judging. also, he didn’t “talk to” her in any bad way. he didn’t like the way the movie was different a la the same way loads of people don’t like the harry potter movies. chill out.

    • whoa

      umm. texting is rude no matter your age.

      • Whoaoooo

        Umm. writing on the internet is rude no matter your age.

  • izikavazo

    Ah yea, more proof that teenagers are freaks. God I hate them.

    • Danny

      I agree, her son talks to her like that too?

    • Mags

      Makes me think of Liz Lemon. “Gah! Youths!”

      • joe

        That’s not a fair generalization. I’m a teen and i both enjoyed this film and i get irked when people txt in a movie. The vibration is just as distracting as the ringtone. Also, i would never say bulls**t to my mother. She would kill me

      • izikavazo

        I feel like Liz, these kids just ruin everything.
        Sorry Joe, but you know you’re the exception, right? Most people your age are fools.
        (BTW, I’m happily 21)

  • Jackie

    Loved the movie, loved the costumes, loved the story! My own little Wild thing sat intently through the whole thing and talked wildly about it all the way home!

  • Erick

    BIG disappointment for WB on the take – the fact that it wasn’t more kid-friendly is what kept it WELL below what the studio was hoping for.

    • DW

      The weekend gross actually exceeded expectations. Please research these things before posting useless comments.

    • sosgemini

      Huh? It actually exceeded studio and media’s expectations. What are you smoking?

    • Erick

      Sorry… I never learned how to read between the lines or to think abstractly. My attention span is about 2 seconds long and I ate paint chips as a kid. I never even saw Where the Wild Things Are, but I feel as though I know everything about anything because I have the internet. Derrrrrrrrrr

  • Deez

    I, for one, am happy to hear that Ethan has friends to text to. Given his passionate love for a children’s book as evidenced by his eyes being unable to suffer a movie of it, I am pleased to hear that he is able to form connections with teenagers his age.

    • Shea Dietz

      do it after the movie

    • Hey Deez

      Your complacency will lead your children to make your their b*tches. Grow up and acquire some manners.

  • Pidge

    I am a “real fan”…a huge fan of the book…the movie was great. Brilliant, even. I think some people just don’t “get it”…the movie is deep.

    • DavidJ

      Agreed. I’m amazed at how many parents seem to think the book is nothing but a fun, happy little romp. Are they really that dense and unperceptive?? Yikes.

      • Eliz

        Yes, brilliant is the word. This movie will live longer than most of us.

      • Denny

        The only thing that’s deep is the arrogant crap being spewed by people eager to pull their arms out of their sockets by patting themselves on the back intellectually for liking this movie others weren’t into. I don’t think it’s a matter of them not getting it. No one said, “I’m confused.” Some just enjoyed it more than others. Hey, I thought the movie was charming and I loved the aesthetics and the voice work by the actors, but I’ve not fidgeted that much in a movie in a long time, and it’s nothing for me to sit through a three or four hour movie. It’s decent but it’s not the Second Coming, and you don’t have to grasp T.S. Eliot to understand it.

      • Cindy

        I’ve never lived with little boys, or actually been one, but it is it really so typical for a child to be so frighteningly, almost psychotically angry? I want to check out a copy of the book, which I’ve never read, but I get a sense that the story shows a mechanism whereby this out of control kid is able to stand back more calmly and watch his inner demons duke it out amongst themselves,then when he realizes he’s made a mess of things, knows he needs to go back to home and reality. That, I think, is what’s deep about it.

  • way to show your age…

    i had 8 kids in my minivan and omg this movie stunk then i brought them home and complained to my husband all night how little my life is. good job.

  • Deez

    Maybe he wasn’t texting? Perhaps he snuck the book in under his shirt & was whispering sweet nothings into it’s ear?

    • trepithet

      I lol’d.

  • Pidge

    No, it was NOT a disappointment for the studio. Not one bit.
    They expected mid 20’s. It exceeded their expectations. They are extremely pleased with it, as a matter of fact.

    • Ted

      I love how everyone’s a Hollywood insider these days.

      • jk

        You don’t have to be a Hollywood insider to read what a movie’s expected take is and then compare it what the movie actually made.

  • roy

    Please turn of our cell phone and pagers, out of consideration for other patrons. — Pretty basic behavior in a public theatre.

    • John Doze

      Agreed. I’d like to see the movie, based on Jonze’s previous work, but based on the mother’s review, I’ll avoid the theater she’s at with her kids. This is not parenting, it’s spoiling.

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