Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak's wildly popular children's classic came out too late to be read by my sons or me. I read it for the first time to a four-year-old girl about two months ago (it only contains twelve lines) and I was dismayed by how dark it was. She seemed to like it fine, so I suspected I was out of step with contemporary tastes.

Now that Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich") has adapted the book into what will no doubt be a top-earning movie, I am POSITIVE I am out of step with contemporary tastes!

Judging by the ill-advised parents who had to take their bored toddlers out of the theater, please be advised that this is NOT your standard children's fare: it is dark, scary, slow, and fairly complicated.

The movie has stunning production values, terrific animatronics and a dauntingly realistic episode in a little boat. The book doesn't include other people, but in the movie we are thrown into a conflicted family scene with Max Records ("The Brothers Bloom") as our "hero" Max, com- pletely out of control: running wild, breaking his sister's things and even biting his mother, played by Catherine Keener ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin"). Consequently, I found it very difficult to be on his side as the story progressed.

The voice artists are terrific, They include James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Michael Berry, Jr., and Chris Cooper.

If you've read the book, you already know how it ends, so I won't go there...after all, isn't that where the wild things are?