Monday, October 19, 2009

Sorry Spike

I’m sorry Spike.
You see I really want to like Where the Wild Things Are.
The idea of matching skater-boy genius Spike Jonze to the beloved kid lit classic seemed the perfect collaboration. Those monsters were like the grubby teddy bears we all shared. And who better to direct then Spike Jonze? He who taught us to how to be John Malcovich. He who predicted the hipster moustache, when Mike D and the boys shot Sabotage.
So I really wanted to like it.

But, I can’t.
Yes it’s beautiful. The monsters loom large and lovely. It is exactly as I imagined it, well that is until the monsters open their mouths. Suddenly these mud-caked mascots sound like the cast of Felicity. Carol doesn’t like Bob and Ted. K.W. spends too much time with her friends. Judith is always picking on Ira and no one listens to Alexander.

Is this really the fantasy world we envisioned? Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak anointed Spike Jonze because he seemed so boyish himself. Certainly watching Spike and his young surrogate Max get along I can see there’s a part of the director that’s still hiding under the bed with his flashlight.

Childhood is a beautiful thing. But we’ve been living the past for so long Hollywood should be charged with smothering its inner child. You know before Jonze inflated the 20-page book into a blockbuster he’d been working on an adaptation of Harold and the Purple Crayon?.
And heck, why not?. The past couple years it feels like we’ve done nothing but playing in the past. GI JOE, Star Trek, Land of the Lost. How did we get here where nearly every piece of mainstream entertainment is a version of something else?

I remember a number of years ago when I was running a film club for a group of high school students. After watching a couple clips one of the students remarked how lucky I was to have grown up in the 80s when all the great movies were made.

It’s hard to look at the decade that brought us Police Academy 1 to 6 as a renaissance, but then again as least the good filmmakers were making something out of nothing. E.T. Back to the Future. Ghostbusters. All classic, entertaining films with inspiration to spare. What can we look forward to now? Ghostbusters 3 . Fantastic. Flabby phantom versions of the original.

Time to stop looking backwards.
I think I can survive without the next remake of Clash of the Titans, Thundercats and whatever else is in the pipe.
It’s time to see something new at the movies again.
As the boy king says, "Let the Wild Rumpus Start!"