Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    Jonze has filmed a fantasy as if it were absolutely real, allowing us to see the world as Max sees it, full of beauty and terror. The brilliant songs, by Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and the Kids, enhance the film's power.
  2. Not since Robert Altman took on “Popeye” a generation ago, and lost, has a major director addressed such a well-loved, all-ages title. This time everything works, from tip to tail.
  3. His (Jonze) obvious affection for, and veneration of, Maurice Sendak's 1963 Caldecott Medal-winning children's book is palpable in his near-perfect live-action adaptation, a dreamy -- and, like Sendak's book, faintly nightmarish -- exploration of one child's tantrum-y side.
  4. This is one of the year's best. To paraphrase the Wild Thing named KW, I could eat it up, I love it so.
  5. 100
    What he’s (Jonze) ended up with strikes me as one of the most empathic and psychologically acute of all movies about childhood -- a "Wizard of Oz" for the dysfunctional-family era.
  6. With Where the Wild Things Are Jonze has made a work of art that stands up to its source and, in some instances, surpasses it.
  7. As wish-fulfillments go, this is a movie lover's dream.
  8. 100
    In elaborating on the original book so boldly, and repopulating it so richly, Jonze has protected Where the Wild Things Are as an inviolable literary work. In preserving its darkest spirit, he's created a potent, fully realized variation on its most highly charged themes.
  9. Reviewed by: Josh Modell
    Spike Jonze has recently said in interviews that his chief goal ...was to try to capture the feeling of being 9. By that measure--by just about any measure, really--he succeeded wildly.
  10. Reviewed by: Matthew Sorrento
    His film captures the wonderment of dreaming - and the reality of waking.
  11. I don't want to oversell the thing. It is, quite simply, something very special indeed.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Like the book, the movie blends a primitive quality with an imaginative artfulness. It also amplifies upon the story's gentle, sly wit.
  13. There are some great, rapturous moments in Where the Wild Things Are. Jonze is humbled before the wonders of a child's imagination, and so are we.
  14. The film treats kids' inner lives as more than a fantasy, which is a rare and beautiful thing.
  15. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    A film for anyone who’s ever climbed trees, grazed knees or basked in the comfort of a parent’s sympathy as they’ve pulled you off the ground crying. It’ll make your inner child run wild.
  16. For all the artfulness, the feel of the film is rough-hewn, almost primitive. It’s a fabulous tree house of a movie.
  17. 75
    The movie felt long to me, and there were some stretches during which I was less than riveted. Is it possible that there wasn't enough Sendak story to justify a feature-length film?
  18. A satisfyingly moody, melancholy, madcap live-action romp.
  19. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    This version of Where the Wilds Things Are isn’t about childhood at all but about childhood’s end and what’s gained and lost by it. That’s why very young kids, dull Disney princesses, overprotective parents, and self-serious grown-ups should probably stay away.
  20. 75
    The result is an involving experience for all but the most fidgety children and an opportunity for parents to enjoy (rather than endure) a motion picture with their offspring.
  21. 67
    It IS a film that deflates you too often, despite its efforts to impart a sense of soaring. In the end, where the Wild Things are is in your imagination and in Sendak’s pages, not in this big-hearted but ultimately faint simulation.
  22. 63
    Jonze lets the magic ebb away in a sorry mesh of strained relationships.
  23. To their credit, the creative team has retained the handmade look and unruly spirit of Maurice Sendak's bedtime fable; to their discredit, they haven't added enough narrative or emotional dimension to make it an effective movie.
  24. Where the film falters is Jonze and novelist Dave Eggers' adaptation, which fails to invest this world with strong emotions.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Director Spike Jonze's sharp instincts and vibrant visual style can't quite compensate for the lack of narrative eventfulness that increasingly bogs down this bright-minded picture.
  26. 50
    The film lacks the menace and danger of Sendak's book, along with the beautiful simplicity and delicated, understated portrait of a lonely, misunderstood boy.
  27. 50
    In their overly earnest attempt to flesh Sendak’s story out to 100 minutes, Jonze and his co-screenwriter, novelist Dave Eggers, have laboriously spelled out motivations (divorce is bad!), elaborated back stories -- and added reams of less-than-inspired dialogue.
  28. The most daring thing that Jonze and Eggers have done is make a children's film that might not really be for kids.
  29. Less an adaptation of its source material than a therapeutic response to it.
  30. Mature folks may wonder why a simple and simply beautiful story from their youth has been buried under layers of emotion Woody Allen's psychiatrist might want to pick over.
  31. 50
    Wild Things isn't overlong, but it is underwhelming.
  32. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's just too bad the end result isn't a better movie.
  33. 50
    I have a vision of eight-year-olds leaving the movie in bewilderment. Why are the creatures so unhappy? That question doesn’t return a child to safety or anywhere else. Of one thing I am sure: children will be relieved when Max gets away from this anxious crew.
  34. 50
    Warmly and gently handled, though the central story, detailing the personal politics between him and the six childlike monsters, steadily loses steam.
  35. The true soulfulness of Sendak’s parable never emerges.
  36. 40
    Jonze's ideas, visual and otherwise, spill out in a faux-philosophical ramble that isn't nearly as deep as he thinks it is; at best, it's a scrambled tone poem. Even the look of the picture becomes tiresome after a while -- it starts to seem depressive and shaggy and tired.
  37. When faced as a director with the rudderless screenplay he (Jonze) co-wrote with Eggers, he's been powerless to energize it in any involving way. Sometimes you are better off with 10 sentences than tens of millions of dollars, and this is one of those times.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 352 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 64 out of 189
  1. Oct 8, 2011
    "Where the Wild Things Are" is a movie campier than its original book source, but director Spike Jonze successfully transfers the unbiased, pure perspective of a child (Max) to the audience. Full Review »
  2. TedD
    Apr 18, 2010
    I just saw the film, Where the Wild Things Are, last night. There were moments that I really liked in the film but even in those moments I felt frustrated in that the movies main character had never been fully develope much less a sense of exceptionality in his life experience. Even when I tried to appreciate the setting and creation of the wild animals I was aware of my boredom. And as to the insights into childhood, I found those self-indulgent. One scene stood out to me. Before running away, the boy stands on the kitchen table saying "Feed me woman" and asserts more than he knows only to find that he is more terrified with his mothers remark, "What is wrong with you? Maybe he knows in a post Freudian world living with a single Mom and watching his Mom flirting with her boyfriend. His answer is to set sail and find a new family where he can be King and in becoming King he becomes tamed. I like the insight but a whole film? Full Review »
  3. Aug 17, 2012
    A stunning, emotional , well acted and written movie. Although im glad many others give it a 10 i would disagree with any that state it not a childrens movie. Its for everyone that is or has ever been a child, and certainly some children ( just like the " adults " hear giving well thought out 0 reviews ) will find it boring but some will love it. It has a certain look like no other film . Everyone has differnt opinions on everything in life so dont listen to the ( incorrect ) bad review....know what your getting into and just watch it. U could be missing out on one of your new favs :) Full Review »