Where the nervous things are

Hearing that there’s going to be a film adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are”, one of my all-time favorite children’s books… my breath catches in my throat, and my mind flashes on all the various ways it could all go horribly awry, and fail to capture the slew of feelings I have of reading that book.

Maurice Sendak’s art is what made the book come alive for me, though the story is also a simple one that should be familiar to any child or parent – young Max is making trouble around the house, and is sent to bed without supper. In his room, a forest grows, and the forest is populated with monsters. Max conquers the monsters, being half-wild himself, but eventually grows bored and lonely. Upon his return to his room, his supper is still waiting.

“And it was still hot.”

The monsters in Max’s forest look very much like Muppets; the Muppets originally appeared in the 1950s, and Sendak’s book was published in 1964, so there may be some influence there.

There are few directors that I would trust with material that holds such emotional appeal to me; Terry Gilliam, though his production would be way over-budget and take forever to produce; or Tim Burton, though he’s a little too slapstick; or Michel Gondry, actually, might be perfect.

My anxiety was relieved, however, to hear that Spike Jonze is directing. *Phew*. Someone who handled the material in “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation” so well, will do a good job of translating the story of Max to the medium of film.

It doesn’t hurt that Dave Eggers is writing the screenplay, though. Mr. Eggers’ novels appeal to the little kid in me – or the little kid who likes to read at a college level, at any rate.

The part that makes me saddest is that I know people who haven’t even heard of the book! Tracy gave me a blank look when I excitedly burst into her office with the news. I asked Stacy, who works in the cafeteria here, about it, and got the same non-reaction.

I’m not even going to ask Ken about it… Though he’s free to comment if he’d like. Kevin? Have your kids read “Where the Wild Things Are?”

I’m tempted to draw a line from the lack of knowledge of this wonderful book, and the terrible state of affairs in the world today. Doesn’t President Bush, strutting around in his flight suitseem exactly like Max, running around in his wolf suit, scaring the dog and knocking things over? President Bush thinks he’s the King of the Monsters, but we’d be so much better off if he would just come back and finish his supper…

At any rate, I’m very much looking forward to this movie now. I’ll be sure to see it with my youngest nephew… also named Max.