Year: 2009, Writer: Dave Eggers & Spike Jonez (screenplay) Maurice Sendak(book), Director: Spike Jonez, Budget: $80 million (estimated), Gross: $62,650,379 (as of November 1st, 2009)
Year: 2009, Writer: Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida, Director: Sam Mendes, Budget: $17 million (estimated), Gross: $9,430,988
so, i just finally got around to seeing Where The Wild Things Are and it was great. And, as i sat there watching the credits pop up at the end of the film i saw the name dave eggers appear as co-writer. eggers wrote one of my favorite books, You Shall Know Our Velocity, and i had totally forgot that he had written the script for this film with spike jonez.
it did remind me however, that he had written another screenplay and while i couldn't think of it at that moment sitting in the theatre, when i got home i imdb'd it and remembered that it was the sam mendes film that had been released earlier in the year, Away We Go. so, i sat down a couple days later and checked that one out as well. and i gotta say... bravo! to both films.
while i, like most people of my generation, had a fondness for the Where The Wild Things Are book, i went into the film not having read or looked at the book in many many years. so for me it was pretty much a clean slate. And, to see what spike jonez does with that slate, i don't know how anyone can't like this film.
it is funny and sad and dramatic and it will make you cry and laugh and imagine. and it will make you feel and smile and wonder. it never talks down to us or to the kids that might be watching it. in fact, you may have noticed that the advertising for the film was mostly playing to a young adult crowed as opposed to children.
the wild things are incredible. the costumes and the voice acting and the way they all move creates such a believability to all of them. they are true characters and you will love some of them and not like others.
the set design and art direction and the world that jonez has created here is spectacular. you feel like if you walked into the woods and walked far enough you too might come across the wild things and their world. and, on that note, i thought it was great that the wild things world is never discussed as fake or imaginary.
max gets there by boat and leaves by boat, but besides that the film makers and writers didn't feel the need to explain it all to us (i will admit i don't remember how it goes in the book). it is about us believing in it all the way max does and that just makes his experience and his return home that much more meaningful.
i hadn't planned this segway, but now that i think of it, Away We Go has a meaningful return home as well. the film is a great little romantic dramady that takes our main couple (burt and verona) on a road trip of sorts, as they try to decide where to make their life with their baby that is due in three months.
sam mendes, known from much darker and dramatic fare (American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Revolutionary Road...) does a really great job with this film and the script from eggers and vendela vida (eggers' wife) is great.
what i found interesting about the writing was that, based on the novel of his that i read, eggers' writing is very modern and witty and quick and hip, but that isn't the case for both Away We Go and Where The Wild Things Are. for both films he, and his co-writer, were really able to write for the characters and the story, rather then fitting them into a writing style or attitude. not to say both films aren't smart and witty and such, but they are so in the ways that fit each experience and film.
and finally i have to mention the casting of maya rudolph and john krazinski as the leads in Away We Go. i don't know if they were the first choices or not, but i will say that they should have been. they are both great at the comedic stuff - as one would expect - but the drama and the rest didn't phase them either. they also had chemistry - which, given the fact that they are in 99% of the film together really would be a deal breaker no matter how good the script and the directing was.
i'm sure at this point you have all heard of Where The Wild Things Are and either seen it or want to see it or have decided that you don't want to see it. Whereas, Away We Go hung around in the theatres for a couple months, but didn't do much. however, besides both having dave eggers attached to their screenplays, they are both really good films that you really should see.