There was an instance where I was arrested at a student protest and it would have been great if Forest Whitaker had suddenly appeared to passionately articulate and argue my case to the police rather than the guy who yelled, “Dude! Run! No! Don’t!” Whitaker, who plays one of the main Wild Things in in the notoriously delayed and troubled Where the Wild Things Are, is backing the film’s director, Spike Jonze, and the flick 100 percent. Good to see, innit? So, is the film really too scary and mature for kids as test audiences have reported? Here’s what Whitaker, who saw the film with his children aged 9, 13, and 16, just told MTV…
“I play Ira, he puts the holes in the trees,” the Oscar-winner grinned. “I have a wife and kid, and we’re the only family unit inside [the land of the Wild Things]. It’s a good movie. I saw an early cut of it. I brought my kids to see it, and I was really impressed.”
And then he got all deep….
“[The dark scenes] are the point of the movie, and I hope that they maintain that point, because I think children can identify with a character who is upset. …[Max] rolls by himself, no father figure; this is a single family home,” he continued, with passion. “His mother ends up having a boyfriend that becomes like a monster to himâ€¦people have to build trust with the people their parent starts to dateâ€¦These are real issues that the character deals with, and I hope that [the filmmakers] continue to explore them, because kids need to see that; they need to see that other kids are dealing with it.”
“The thing is, it’s one thing to read [scary stuff] in a book, but when you see an itty-bitty kid running alongside a 10-foot-giant on the side of a cliff, it gets intense. But that’s the point, because we’re representing the things inside of the kid. They represent his struggles, either him being too angry or being confused, or not feeling like he belongs. They’re a gargantuan extension of the way he’s feeling inside.”
Whitaker said he’s going to give Jonze a ring and see what the deal is with the ambitious and pricey ($75 mill) kid’s film. As we previously reported, Warner Bros. has now a set the film’s release date for October 2009; you know, that’s only 19 months to go. Jonze hasn’t released any more statements for the picture after identifying the early test footage that hit the Net back in February to oooh’s, ahhh’s and hmmm’s. Let’s hope Warner Bros. takes the Oscar winner’s opinion into consideration, and don’t let your support fall by the wayside either.
Sabotage!?! There’s incredibly weird, and increasingly depressing, buzz coming off Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are, and now Chud reports that execs at Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are considering reshooting the entire $75 million friggin’ movie! This news, of course, comes on top of the rather cool test footage that leaked last weekend, and the rather subdued statement Jonze released yesterday concerning the early footage. There are even wild rumors circulating more and more in the industry that Jonze might take his name off the project, and Devin’s report at Chud doesn’t persuade against that speculation. This is serious, people. Take this excerpt for example…
“Yet I’m hearing that just such a massive reshoot is what is on the table right now. And it’s not because of technical issues, unless you want to consider the lead kid actor and the script technical issues. Sources tell me that the suits at Legendary and Warner Bros are not happy with Max Records, the actor playing Max, the mischievous boy who is crowned King of the Wild Things. Worse than that, they don’t like the film’s tone and want to go back to the script drawing board, possibly losing the Spike Jonze/Dave Eggers script when they do it. Apparently the film is too weird and ‘too scary,’ and the character of Max is being seen as not likable.”
It’s not yet in the open whether Jonze has final cut on the children’s flick. If so, and if this news is well-founded, that could mean a major tug-o-war with execs and possibly end up with Jonze removed from the project altogether. With his former girlfriend, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, doing the soundtrack and a tight-knit crew, that would be one ballsy move by WB. Do they really want to play knock the hipsters off the island? Jus’ sayin’.
Of course, Jonze’s statement yesterday mentioned no such drama, but he didn’t release an elated in-progress statement like James Cameron just did below, either. Early audience reports from test screenings late last year were prototypically alarming, calling the film “dark,” “not suitable for small children,” complaining about “some desert place” et al. But Maurice Sendak‘s book is, as many /Film commenters have smartly pointed out, about monsters, imagination and the free realm where kids play. Sendak is also said to be on board as a consultant to Jonze and co-screenwriterDave Eggers on the film, and Eggers, the co-founder of McSweeney’s and a literary darling, is even writing a spin-off novel to accompany the film.
This chic house of cards would lend credence to Spike and Co. staying with the project, which has been delayed until 2009 due to reported visual effects difficulties pertaining to the Wild Things’ faces (the Jim Henson Company created their costumes). But, what if, just what if…
More on this (and probable Free Spike Jonze t-shirts) as it develops. In the meantime…
Discuss: If this is true, tell Warner Brothers what you think! They are listening. Do you want a version of WTWTA on par with traditional family fare like 2003′s The Cat and the Hat and A VeggieTales Movie?
I was just about to go drown myself in Pabst and orange juice when a tipster sent me an email with the words “Hunter, What Do You Think?” and a link to the following vid. I can’t believe what I just watched. It appears to be a clip from Spike Jonze‘s Where the Wild Things Are, and while the visual effects for the Wild Thing’s face are off, as is the voice work (thinkShowbiz Pizza: The Movie), this would go along with the reasons we’ve heard for the film being pushed back to 2009. As for the child actor playing the character of Max in the clip, is this the same young actor, Max Records (real name), that we’ve seen in the official still from the film? It’s hard to say, but my gang of Gchatters from coast to coast, including Peter, say it doesn’t look like him. I agree.
So, is the clip a fake? And if so, who would make such a precise fake, clearly as an inside joke, as there is little doubt that most of this was shot on film? A friend in New York says he heard last night that The Kid America Club, a ragtag group of New York hipster party animals who utilize similar wild thing-ish costumes and have considerable resources, may be behind this. What the hell? I don’t buy it, but if it’s fake, those maniacal hipsters are prime suspects as they knowingly operate in the same concentric circles as Jonze (and purportedly had talks with Showtime for their own show a few years ago).
The clip has a voyeuristic, sun-spotted quality and there is an inherent weirdness present that would go along with what sneak preview audiences have reported. The first few seconds even contain music that sounds like it’s taken from Beck’s Odelay, another Jonze bud. I am at once bothered by how unfinished this is and totally digging it. Throw some Karen O on the creative pyre, and I’m beginning to think that Jonze and Dave Eggers, who wrote the screenplay, may have quite a bit of deranged magic in store for us, much to Hollywood’s chagrin. And after There Will Be Blood, this is the only children’s movie suitable for Paul Dano.
But if this clip is ersatz: Greatest Hipster Prank of All Time!
If you’ve never had the pleasure of spending five or so minutes looking for an “unstuffy, blue skies” photo of Sam Mendes, try staring at a piece of gray construction paper until your eyes glaze over. At least this new, upcoming project sounds like a nice change of pace (color?) for the director of American Beauty, who hasn’t been on auto-pilot since snagging Best Director in ’99, but sometimes it feels that way. Mendes has signed on to helm an untitled comedy based on the script, “This Must Be the Place,” by Vendela Vida and her husband, McSweeney’s maestro Dave Eggers. And yes, the script fits, like a circle into a circle-shaped hole, into that oh-so ’07 category of “unready for preggo, me laugh one day” movies.
Who’s bringing the funny to the flesh? Well, Maya Rudolph (PTA’s better half, SNL ethnic-role staple) and The Office‘s John Krasinki (so weird in Smiley Face), are attached like Velcro laces to star as a just-married couple searching for a proper place to pop out and raise a cute bebe. Filming is scheduled for March and it’s parked at Focus Features.
Mendes’s next film in theaters will be December’s ’50s set Revolutionary Road, starring Leonard DiCaprio and Mendes’s wife, Kate Winslet, as a couple torn up by cheating and other drama igniting from that crazy, little sparkler called love.