"Wild Things" movie gets author Sendak's blessing

Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:50am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Turning a classic children's book into a Hollywood movie takes courage.

When that book is Maurice Sendak's dark but beloved "Where the Wild Things Are" and the illustrated original consists of just nine simple sentences, it also helps to have the author's blessing.

Director Spike Jonze had both when he set out to bring the award-winning 1963 book to the big screen in a version that is both a departure and an homage designed to appeal to adults as well as children.

Five years in the making, Jonze's part live-action, part puppetry, part computer-animated version of "Where The Wild Things Are" arrives in North American theaters on Friday to a mixture of glowing reviews and deep reservations.

The book is a spare but lavishly illustrated tale of a rambunctious boy who dons his wolf suit and goes in search of mischief but falls back on his imagination when he gets sent to his room. It has been one of 10 all-time best selling books for children since the 1970s.

But Jonze, the man behind the quirky 1999 film "Being John Malkovich," said he did not intend to make a traditional kids' movie.

"I set out to make a movie about childhood," said Jonze, who also co-wrote the screenplay with novelist Dave Eggers.

"It's about what it's like to be 8 or 9 years old and trying to figure out the world, the people around you and the emotions that are sometimes predictable or confusing.   Continued...

<p>Director Spike Jonze and character Alexander are pictured on the set of the film "Where the Wild Things Are" in this undated publicity photograph. REUTERS/Chris Searl/Warner Bros./Handout</p>