It has been said – often correctly – that Hollywood is devoid of innovation and desolate of ideas, that they’ll keep rehashing and rehashing and rehashing until we’re practically conditioned to be fans of it. This much is certainly true: never before has Hollywood been so divided into the have nots and haves, between those who are without innovation and pivot to the past for ideas and those who transcend the medium in new and exciting ways.
I feel that Spike Jonze is the latter. He is an underrated director in his own right, I presume precisely because he works with Charlie Kaufman, but their movies were so good for the very reason that the two had a tight partnership. They have certainly begun to set out on their own paths creatively as of late, but Jonze seemingly hasn’t lost any of that spark that initially galvanized him as a director.
Jonze’s latest film, “Where the Wild Things Are”, is the kind of quixotic idea that you feel along the spinal nerves. At first you wonder how an adaptation could possibly be done, and then after seeing a glimpse of it you wonder why no one could do it at all before Jonze. Now all that’s left is for Jonze to pull together the final product into a finished and charming form.
LA Times has an article by Chris Lee that gives some insight into Jonze’s inspiration behind the film and the process of adapting Maurice Sendak’s classic work:
“(Maurice Sendak’s) attitude is so counter to that, to protecting anything,” Jonze said. “His assignment to us was, ‘Take this, make it your own. Make it something personal. This book was something I made when I was your guys’ age.’ It was almost like he handed it to us.”
Then again, “Where the Wild Things Are” could never work as a straight adaptation, giving Jonze free range over the material. I think that Sendak made the correct decision in allowing Jonze to explore his own boundaries, and it’s something creatively that more adaptations should work within.