I don't use this word lightly, but "Where The Wild Things Are" is an absolute masterpiece, and it's the finest offering from any Hollywood studio thus far this year.
It is a gorgeous, painful, heartfelt look at the turbulence of childhood, shot through with the wisdom that only perspective can allow, but told in a way that grounds us in the POV of a child. It's smart, deceptively simple, and richly imagined. I saw a rough cut of the film in 2007 at the now-infamous test screening, and even in rough form, it rattled me deeply. But finished, the film is a miracle of sorts, a movie that authentically captures the experience of what it's like when you're too young to fully manage your own emotional landscape, but old enough to know you have no control.
It is also, in my opinion, the perfect model of what adaptation should be.
Maurice Sendak's book has been part of my life since I was a little boy, and the real power of his story is how much it suggests in less than 200 words. The art, the choice of how he says what he says, and the dreamlike logic of the piece all combine to weave a powerful spell over both children and adults. When my first son was born, "Where The Wild Things Are" was the first book I purchased for him, while he was still in the hospital with my wife, waiting to come home. It felt important to me to have a copy of the book in the house, and as story time has become a nightly institution in the house, Toshi calls for the book at least once a week. This and Dr. Seuss's "Oh! The Places You'll Go" are his two favorites, the ones we return to more often than any other, and when you consider the way Seuss has been treated by Hollywood, this movie seems like even more of a miracle.