Where the Wild Things Are

Rated 3.0

To Maurice Sendak’s 10 indelibly illustrated sentences about a naughty kid on a tantrum trip to a monster-populated foreign land, director Spike Jonze and co-writer Dave Eggers bring rambunctious agility, tenderly fraternal rumination and many vaguely ingratiating signifiers of DIY creative intensity. (The retro-righteous aura of handicraft and dusky lo-fi photorealism is distractingly pretty.) Well-stocked with famous adult actors giving fine performances from within wonderfully Muppety, minimally CGI-enhanced costumes, Where the Wild Things Are properly belongs to the comprehending and mercifully un-kid-actor-like newcomer Max Records, who has a gift for openhearted petulance. Still, and not surprisingly, the film can’t transcend its basic proportions problem: With the framework so enlarged, the feelings seem to shrink, and a soundtrack full of Karen O just adds up to the indie version of schmaltz. Sendak’s book already has been turned into opera and ballet. Might this new adaptation have worked better as the music video it sometimes wants to be?