Wild Thang

“It was different than I thought it would be.”

We have just spent the afternoon with his fifth grade class, taking in the movie Where the Wild Things Are.

Now Jeffrey is trying to articulate his thoughts about the film.

“I didn’t like it when he ran away from home. And, he didn’t leave the island at the best time, did he? Nothing really worked out right.”

He thinks for a moment and then adds:

“It was kind of sad, wasn’t it?”

I dab my eyes and nod, sniff back tears that have shed down my throat and into sinuses.

Yes, it was sad. Made sadder by memories of my own–memories I thought left far behind, scabbed over now. But this stark cinematography and sparse script captured perfectly the feelings of alienation and loneliness I felt as a child of divorce. The shattered world left behind for Max whispered ghost-pictures of upheaval and loss that I still grieve at times.

I think I effectively hid my tears from Jeffrey’s classmates… concealed my face by resting cheek in hand. Glancing around, I realized few of them grasped the deeper tones of the story. They eyed the screen expectantly waiting for something…anything exciting to happen.

But, as Jeffrey says, nothing really worked out right, did it?

We talk about the differences between the book and the movie. Jeffrey, sharp eye that he is, did not miss the message that Max’s parents were divorced (or separated).

“That’s not in the book,” he states flatly.

We talk about the gift of imagination the book gives, and how this story is just one possible way of reading between the lines. We talk about how Max expressed his emotions and how these things were mirrored in his imaginary “wild” world–how he figured out through the Wild Things that the way he was acting with his mother was not helping things…How a story sometimes helps us make sense of our worlds.

No, it wasn’t how I expected it to be either. This book that has captured the imaginations of generations–has awakened the wild imagination in so many–it was given a different face for me today. As one reviewer said, this isn’t really a movie for kids; it’s more about being a kid.

Maybe so.

But this big kid enjoyed talking about it with her little today.

If you want a movie to feel good about, a story complete with happy endings that ties up all loose ends, don’t go see this movie.

But if you want more…if you want a launch pad for talking about some deep stuff with your kids…this film might just be for you.

It’s pretty wild.


  1. says

    Great review. (You always sum things up so well. Is that the psychologist in you? “So what I hear you saying is…”)

    Sounds like a film I would enjoy, in an odd sort of way.

  2. says

    Thanks for the review Laura! We are looking for a movie to see with the kids tonight! This was in the running! Your review gave me some thing to tell everyone. I appreciate it very much!!

  3. says

    Dear Laura! I’ve been thinking of you for some time. I’m glad I visited tonight. I don’t know if you remember me sharing about my friend who left her Husband and Children for someone else, but I just finished writing her a ‘goodbye’ letter and in it I mentioned the fact that no amount of book-reading from her on the issue of divorce involving little ones, her children will never be OK with what’s happened in their lives. So, reading what you’ve written had again confirmed for me that I’m being truthful to her, an not talking through my hat, as I’m sure she figures… It’s so very sad when anything like this happens… they are, however, blessed with the most amazing Daddy, who is full of God’s strength and mercy and grace – it’s awesome to witness! So bless your heart for sharing that little snippet, and giving us a retell. I don’t think that movie is out just yet over here, probably at Christmas; I have a very tender boy at this stage, so thanks for the heads-up, as it might be a good one for much later down the track, for my little guy… I hope this find you well. God bless! Naomi xxx

  4. says

    When my now 19 year old was 5, he played Max in the school play that year–majoring on the fact that, indeed, my Colton is my “wild thing”. I haven’t seen the movie; not sure I will. Honestly, sometimes I don’t want to pick at the scabs of my painful seasons. Sometimes the moments of picking arrive unexpectedly, and I am forced to grapple with the pain… like last night.

    Those are the times when I can’t find my balance and begin to wonder about my worth on this planet. Times I thought I had previously and entirely dealt with only to realize that scars remain and will continue to remain, despite my willingness to be done with them.

    Divorce hits very close to home with me, and when I think about my older sons and how they must have felt at the time, well, it just nearly sends me over the edge. I know this isn’t what your post is about… but it’s what I’m thinking about as I read your words and understand (to some degree) what it is to be caught off guard with unanticipated remembrances.

    Your a good mom, by the way. Haven’t I told you that at least a thousand times before? Still waiting for the release of “pillow prayers” or “pillow talk” or whatever I originally decided to call your bedside moments with your sons.

    Keep to it.


  5. says

    Hey Laura, thanks for commenting on my blog! Hope my advice helped you.

    I really liked the movie, and can only guess that the ‘disappointment’ with it comes from believing it to be a true children’s movie. 5th graders would probably get it, but no younger, I would guess.

    I was thinking to myself, as Carol is crying and running to catch Max to say good-bye “I shouldn’t care this much about a puppet crying!” But my eyes were welling up. It was good.

    Hope to see you around again soon. Happy blogging!

  6. says

    Hi Laura,
    I’m glad you got to go see the movie with your son’s class, and imagine if anyone saw the tears, they thought it was because of what was going on in the movie. Maybe they had some of their own. It sounds like you had a good discussion with your son.

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