Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Where The Wild Things Are: Doomed by the Hype?
What do you get when you mix a beloved children's book, a cult film/music video director (Spike Jonze of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and a soundtrack by Indie darling Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Surely a recipe for something special, but also for something else:
deafening, suffocating hype.
Where the Wild Things Are was announced almost 3 years ago and has been attached to several directors, several scripts. Scenes have been reshot, release dates have been pushed back, even actors have been recast. Spike Jonze has had to fight tooth and nail for every frame of this film, and in the process, the buzz surrounding this film has reached a dizzying crescendo. Since the first trailer brilliantly used The Arcade Fire's "Wake Up" to the film stills showing the Wild Things in all their glory, every leaked detail of this film has only magnified the anticipation. Much like Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds, which traced a similar creative trajectory, the premature crowning of a film of this nature can unravel everything before it even hits theatres.
Tarantino had the luxury of not needing to feel shackled to any source material, and was free to pour any idea he had into the script, whereas Jonze has to answer to those who will inevitably compare his vision to Sendak's original book. Too creative, and he's blasphemed a classic, too faithful to the book and he alienates fans of his own artistic vision. Adapting a book is a daunting task, especially one with only 48 pages but hundred of millions of fans who know nearly every word by heart. I have no doubt Mr. Jonze has grappled with all of this and has spent these years attempting to strike the perfect balance for this film. I can only hope that people will allow it to stand on its own merits.