Have you ever wanted to bite someone? Have you ever wanted to destroy something, to smash it to pieces? Then you would love the film, Where the Wild Things Are!
You may remember the children's story by Maurice Sendak about Max, who gets in trouble for being a 'wild thing'. He then escapes into an imaginary 'land of the wild things' where he becomes the king. This story was a favourite of mine as a kid, so I read it to my kids when they were small. I think I loved it because it recognised the darker side of kids' imaginations as they deal with the fear and frustrations of living in our world.
The movie is true to the book at its heart, bringing alive Max's inner world as he deals with complex emotions. His response is to run, jump, smash, throw things, fight and rumble. Sometimes this expresses exuberant joy, sometimes sadness and frustration. There are also beautiful scenes where Max creates a safe place, an igloo in the snow, and later a tunnel underground, a place that can keep out the fear and loneliness.
The message of the movie is that the world is not a safe place; there is no king of the wild things who will protect you. There are times when no one listens, when you are picked on and when those you love let you down. Yet there is also a message of grace as Max behaves in a wild and rebellious way. And when he comes home to his mother, he is loved and forgiven.
I saw this movie with my three children who are eight, 10 and 12. My son (the youngest) really identified with Max's wild side. The older girls could not understand Max (maybe because he was a boy?); they thought he was 'just weird'.
This is a movie to see with your kids rather than on their own as the wild things in the movie are a little bit unpredictable and scary, and the themes are certainly deeper than your average Disney movie, evoking deep childhood emotions. I would recommend this movie to kids over eight (and especially boys!).
This movie may be a great opportunity to talk to your kids about their feelings. You could ask them questions like: 'Have there been times when you feel like no one's listening?' 'When you have been picked on by older kids?' 'When did you feel like smashing something (or someone) to pieces?' and 'What should we do as Christians in those situations?'
In our family, we talk about Jesus being our King and that he is making a safe place for us.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009), directed by Spike Jonze. Rated PG for mild violence, infrequent coarse language and scary scenes. View the Internet Movie Database parents' guide at [url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386117/parentalguide]http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386117/parentalguide[/url]
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