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October 15, 2009

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Tony Dayoub

Between this, ANTICHRIST, and A SERIOUS MAN (which I saw last night... thanks for recommending it), I feel some sort of anti-feminist backlash emerging from some unexpected corners in the film world.

Brian Zitzelman

I really enjoyed the hell out of Wild Things, though it is flawed in parts. I was able to overcome my hate of Eggers for two hours and enjoy this.

twitter.com/oldmanwall

Wow, you seem to have read a lot more into that 'coda' than I did. After trying my best to remember the specifics of the ending, I'm still not sure what leads you to your conclusion. Also, probably worth pointing out that *everyone* Max sees prior to leaving home stokes his bad attitude - it's not just the females. Ruffalo's character is the one who really deserved the bite.

But, yeah, the music was major weaksauce.

eugenen

Yeah -- your reading of the last scene seems precisely backwards. Max's response to his mom, basically collapsing of exhaustion at the table in front of him, is, at long last, sympathy and understanding.

trooper york

I don't know. It sort of looks like a repressed version of the Banana Splits.

Account Deleted

I was looking forward to this, but a lot of the reviews seem to agree that the story is weak, if not non-existent.

@trooper york: Banana Splits gag made me chuckle. The DVD boxset of that was just released here in the UK and I was strongly considering picking it up to have a little weep for my lost childhood.

Scott

Yeah, you don't understand the ending, AT ALL.

Dan

One of these days, I'm going to get up the energy to find out why Eggers, Jonze, etc. has managed to piss off what seems like every critic over 35 on the planet.

Seriously, yours is the first review I've read that's honest about how you felt going in, but it seems like a lot of people walked in to shit on this movie. Risky Biz keeps insisting on calling it an expensive hipster movie, which seems based entirely on the personnel instead of actually seeing the goddamn thing. It's irritating, and I'm starting to wonder, since it's the same people who got in line to shit all over "Watchmen" (not that "Watchmen" was any kind of masterpiece, but it got far more than its share of abuse), it's kind of troubling.

As for Hoberman's review, I've never been on the guy's wavelength, so a pan from him means I'm probably going to be raving about this movie for days.

John M

I'll still see it. For the pretty pictures.

Did anyone else read this immensely satisfying and funny conversation about Eggers's Wild Things novelization? This just killed me:

http://www.theawl.com/2009/08/the-shadow-editors-hands-off-that-rumpus-dave-eggers

Shawn Stone

A Banana Splits movie would be excellent. Richard Donner could, again, direct. But keep Dave Eggers from pouring his feelings all over the story, pleez. (Written as a charter member, age 5, 1968, of The Banana Splits Fan Club.)

joel_gordon

While I also found the movie to be super-annoying, I agree that this post is a big misreading of the ending. Max has become the mother to these wild things, watched as they've turned on him (I guess Eggers/Jonze get credit for not actually having Carol bite Max), and realized how hard it is to take care of a bunch of volatile overgrown children. There's nothing but sympathy in that final shot.

mtbowden

@Dan

I think critics aren't just reacting to the filmmakers, but also to the last decade of indie/hipster culture and its grating fetishization of childhood/childishness. Whether that's fair or not, I think that's a pretty clear element of the criticism, particularly in Hoberman's review.

And I actually don't think it would take much energy to figure out why Dave Eggars, in particular, pisses some people off. You write as though it's bewildering that people don't like him. Yeah, I know, everyone should go into a film with an "open mind." But if people don't like someone's previous work, of course that's going to color their expectations.

Dan

@mtbowden

Put it to you this way: nobody can be as successful as Eggers without pissing somebody off, even if it's just by existing. But since he's not such an enormous jackass that it's penetrated beyond the publishing world, and we live in a world where leaving a bad tip at Starbucks is magnified into gross sociopathy, I'm kind of stuck wondering what the hell's the big deal. Yeah, "Away We Go" was annoying, but it also tanked.

And I agree about colored perceptions, but at the same time, that doesn't excuse people from completely missing the damn point. We're not talking about "Last Year at Marienbad" here. In the case of Hoberman, it's to be expected, the guy has a reputation to maintain. But I'm quite frankly surprised that critics with a more open mind, such as our host, have so utterly misread the film.

don r. lewis

While I'm still lukewarm on the film, which I saw last night, I think it's a pretty amazing representation of youth- particularly young boys. Jonez and Eggars had my mind wandering back to when I was a kid making forts and exploring storm drains. I especially liked ***SPOILER ALERT SORTA** the dirt clod fight. When we were kids, they always started off so fun until someone got pissed and hurt. The film nails that and it felt like I was watching a recreation of my youth.

But all that being said, I'm having a hard time figuring out why I wasn't crazy about it. My expectations weren't met as I had hoped I guess. But it looks amazing and I do want to see it again, but not till I'm home with the blu ray disc.

joel_gordon

Don, I'm with you on everything. This is one of the rare movies I've seen that "works" in nearly every way that its creators set out to do, but still fails to engage me personally. I've never sentimentalized my own childhood, nor did I ever read the Sendak book (as a weird and indecisive child, I just read The Phantom Tollbooth a million times), so maybe I just don't see the point of a movie re-creating all the most annoying aspects of being a wild little boy. Yes, every game ends with someone crying and storming away with a minor wound. I remember it all. However, these weren't exactly the golden years, and I'm just happy that I grew up as quickly as I did. Kids, unfortunately, are amoral and socially incompetent half-people, as much as we love them. Lance Accord might really know how to bring out earth tones against an overcast sky, and the pre-credits freeze frame may be absolutely perfect, but in service of what? It made me think that the plot of A Heartbreaking Work--Dave keeping his little brother young forever, shielding him from adulthood--was not so ironic after all.

Phil Coldiron

I walked out of it last night approaching severe dislike, but the more I've considered it, the more it's starting to come together for me. My main issue, and one I'm not going to be able to fairly reconsider until I see it again, is that I thought the tone of Max's tabletop scene was just entirely wrong - it played as far too mature in its vitriol, rather than a misunderstood appropriation of adult anger and that ended up really knocking me out of all the subsequent parallels between Max in real life and Max's emotions via the Wild Things. There was just too much of a disconnect there from that crucial scene and the rest of the film which I thought did a really nice job maintaining a tone of childlike confusion/insecurity/etc.

@ Joel, I'm not sure this is really romanticizing those shittier moments of childhood so much as using them as symptoms/metaphors for the entire process of childhood - the way the internal plays itself out in what we just look at as games, etc. There were a few times when the emotions seemed a bit on the cheap side (Alexander emo'ing it up all over the place in particular, but I'd be lying if i said it didn't get to me after the dirt fight, that was a truly sad and honest moment to me). I also thought SPOILERSPOILER that the scene where Carol pulled off Douglas' arm was a perfect example of a child's unknowing power to hurt another, made all the better by Douglas' forgiveness and the decision to stick that stick in there, worked so well visually to further that forgiveness.ENDSPOILERSPOILER

Dan

@Don

Yeah, it decidedly nails what it's like to be nine and not in the best place emotionally. I'm going to guess at least part of what's taking people off guard (or even pissing them off) is the total lack of a nostalgia filter or much in the way of sentimentality. There's no real "good guy" here, and this is not a movie that has the warm cuddlies for childhood. Which is actually quite welcome, to my mind, but I can understand it not being a popular choice.

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