“Where The Wild Things Are” (2009)

Carol, the angry almost-leader of the Wild Things, has taken his King, Max, on a tour of all the things Max is King. Carol has shown Max the forests, the deserts, the beaches, and up into the mountains.

Hidden up in the mountains, in a cave, is a miniature mountain range; each mountain a tall, pointy, white-capped sculpture of twigs. Hidden in the twig-mountains are small clay replicas of the Wild Things.

The dream logic is impeccable – of course there are tiny mountains hidden in the larger mountains. Carol is a Wild Thing, a monster, anarchic, free in a terrifying sense. But of course he has spent some of his creative energy to craft and control a tiny world that’s a lot like the larger one he can’t control.

And in a moment of vulnerability, he has taken his King to see his handiwork.

Max, of course, is a human boy, who has donned his wolf suit and run away from home. Max’s mom is overwhelmed with work that she has to bring home, and is now dating a “friend” since Max’s dad is absent. Max loves his mom and needs her attention more than ever, but he doesn’t have the experience or language to know why, exactly.

So Max ran away, and sailed the wide ocean, and found where the Wild Things are.

The Wild Things are pure id – raw need, and rage when their needs are denied. And Carol is the second-most dangerous one of them all (the first being the bull-like Wild Thing who almost never speaks, just groans and chuffles and looms). But showing off his twig-mountain sculpture to Max, he bares a sensitive soul.

“Do you know that feeling,” Carol says, “where your teeth are all falling out? And they start to fall out faster and faster?”

Aha, I thought, hearing that. It’s explicitly a dream. Almost too explicit. But the pull of the images on screen, and the connections I made to the feelings invoked by the Wild Things’ monstrous visages, and surreal dialogue and their dysfunctional, wounded, bipolar interactions, entranced me.

I’m more prone to dreaming that my teeth are rubber and I’m unable to chew. Or that I have wads and wads of chewing gum that is stuck to my teeth, and I pull and pull but there’s more and more, filling up my mouth and threatening my ability to breath. But I’ve had the tooth-falling-out dream, too.

And I have the strong feeling that tonight, again, I am going to visit the same place that Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers, and Maurice Sendak have pulled their words and images from.

Maybe I’ll learn something tonight, like it appears Max did.