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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

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Yearning for escape and adventure, a young boy runs away from home and sails to an island filled with creatures that take him in as their king.


Spike Jonze


Spike Jonze (screenplay), Dave Eggers (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4,309 ( 130)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 53 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Records ... Max
Pepita Emmerichs Pepita Emmerichs ... Claire
Max Pfeifer Max Pfeifer ... Claire's Friend
Madeleine Greaves Madeleine Greaves ... Claire's Friend
Joshua Jay Joshua Jay ... Claire's Friend
Ryan Corr ... Claire's Friend
Catherine Keener ... Mom
Steve Mouzakis ... Teacher
Mark Ruffalo ... The Boyfriend
James Gandolfini ... Carol (voice)
Vincent Crowley ... Carol Suit Performer
Paul Dano ... Alexander (voice)
Sonny Gerasimowicz ... Alexander Suit Performer
Catherine O'Hara ... Judith (voice)
Nick Farnell ... Judith Suit Performer


A young boy named Max has an active imagination, and he will throw fits if others don't go along with what he wants. Max - following an incident with Claire (his sister) and her friends, and following a tantrum which he throws as a result of his Mother paying more attention to her boyfriend than to him - runs away from home. Wearing his wolf costume at the time, Max not only runs away physically, but runs toward a world in his imagination. This world, an ocean away, is inhabited by large wild beasts, including one named Carol who is much like Max himself in temperament. Instead of eating Max like they normally would with creatures of his type, the wild things befriend Max after he proclaims himself a king who can magically solve all their problems. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There's one in all of us. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Germany | Australia | USA



Release Date:

16 October 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Where the Wild Things Are: The IMAX Experience See more »


Box Office


$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,695,407, 18 October 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Mark Ruffalo: In Max Records' previous film The Brothers Bloom (2008), he played Ruffalo's character at a young age. See more »


When we first see the wild things, they are seen in silhouette, and are shown to be speaking, yet their mouths don't move when their talking. This could be a way to save money of CGI, as the mouths were moved using computers, and they could assume that people wouldn't notice through the dark lighting. See more »


[first lines]
Max: Hey, Claire. Wanna see something great?
Claire: [on the phone] Who else was there?
Max: It's an igloo! I made it.
Claire: Yeah, my brother.
Max: Hey, Claire!
Claire: I can't. We're supposed to go to my dad's that weekend.
Max: The snowplows left some snow across the street, and I dug a hole into it.
Claire: Go and play with your friends.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The logos for Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, and Village Roadshow Pictures are covered with Max's scribblings. See more »


Referenced in Midnight Movie Review: The Great 2010 Review (2010) See more »


Building All Is Love
Written by Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Tristan Bechet
Produced by Karen O and Tom Biller (as tbiller)
Performed by Karen O and the Kids
Courtesy of DGC/Interscope Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Nutshell Review: Where the Wild Things Are
13 October 2010 | by DICK STEELSee all my reviews

Where the WIld Things Are gave the local distributors here a hard time deciding whether to let it loose on the big screen, or not. The trailer was played for some time, and the posters went up, but slowly but surely the release date got perpetually pushed back, until everything got yanked off the screen. This is probably the first film here that had a Facebook group (now quite defunct) set up for movie fans to clamour for its hopefully eventual screening which didn't materialize, but got a sizable following that went on to organize a DVD collective purchase of sorts.

At first I thought, it's quite the no brainer to market it because it's adapted from a popular kid's story written by Maurice Sendak, so the target audience would naturally be the kids, right? Not quite, as after watching the film, director Spike Jonze had weaved quite the mature tale here, sans any semblance of a cutesy nature that could be squarely targeted at its supposedly intended niche audience. Besides, Jonze is not quite the known entity around here, and a culmination of such factors made the distributors have cold feet. So it was what it was, and all we got was a local DVD release.

Which is a pity of course, as I would have relished the opportunity to see the gigantic Wild Things here on the big screen. But I digress. This is probably a film meant for and speaking out to the spoilt brats out there, be they young or old. We follow Max (Max Records) the protagonist of the story as he gets his snow igloo broken by friends of his sister Claire (Pepita Emmerichs) before going on a whirlwind destruction of her room. That's a typical sign of trouble to come, but oh-so-identifiable with children as they hit out where they can, especially with his sister's absence. We learn that he's not quite the quiet boy he may seem to be on the exterior, and surely he throws a tantrum when he doesn't get the attention he needs from his mom (Catherine Keener) when she brings home a boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) whom she has to entertain.

Running away in frustration and anger (and possibly a childlike pettiness as well), here's where the story gets interesting as he goes into a fantastical world where Things inhabit, making friends with a bunch of them large monsters voiced by the likes of James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O'Hara, Michael Berry Jr, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose and Forest Whitaker even. They crown Max king of their land based on the lies cooked up by him about his magical abilities, in the hopes that he'll bring happiness to the group. Alas for all his ideas with his new playmates, he soon finds out that if one of them is emotionally difficult, and probably his best friend and favourite amongst the group, everyone does not get better off and any marked improvements they had made took two steps back. In some ways this parallels his own life and provides him that mirror, before gaining maturity in knowing what needs to be done best.

The amazing fusion of live action and live sized puppetry combined with CG is what stands out in the film, especially when The Wild Things come out, moving and emoting as if they were truly real creatures. The fantastical landscapes made up of large deserts and beaches also makes the film quite the visually arresting piece that leaves you wide-eyed and marvelling and how seamless all elements seem to come together in presentation. While the story's quite the given that it's a literary classic quite familiar with many, Jonze has this adult like treatment in what may seem like a children's story on the surface, which probably made risk-averse distributors think twice about their bottom line, which is indeed a pity.

But there's always the alternative DVD route to take to watch the film, and I'm glad I did. Don't let this slip you by, and perhaps one day we may see more market ambiguous films take to the cinemas here, given a strong and growing niche audience who can be counted on to support well made films that contain the whole works from competent acting to a story that moves.

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