What does it say that three of the top five films on my list this year--and another that could easily have made the top ten, Coraline--are “kid’s movies”? In the end not much, I think. Two of the three, Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox, were directed by talented indie auteurs (Spike Jonze and Wes Andersen, respectively) who merely happened to adapt children’s books in the same year.
Near the end of Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, as young protagonist Max is abandoning the fantastical creatures who have crowned him their king, the Wild Things plead, “Oh please don’t go--we’ll eat you up--we love you so.” The line neatly captures one of the central insights of Sendak’s slim masterwork: the close proximity in the preadolescent mind between affection and aggression, between the loving and the eating. Spike Jonze’s film adaptation, which he co-wrote with Dave Eggers, expands Sendak’s tale considerably, but rather than lose track of this insight, the movie