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Where the Wild Things Are to Hit the Big Screen (For Better or Worse)

If you didn’t read Where the Wild Things Are as a kid, then you are probably either a.) too cool to read, or b.) illiterate. Next you’ll tell me that you missed out on Dr. Seuss, as well.

However, those who are not yet acquainted with the story of Max and his band of mythical beasts need not fear; Maurice Sendak’s childhood classic is making the jump to the big screen in 2009. I, for one, don’t know whether I should jump for joy or sneer in disgust. It’s definitely a well imagined story, but is Where the Wild Things Are destined to join the leagues of other books that never should have been made into movies?

The foremost step in answering this question is obviously consulting IMDB. At first glance, it looks like a promising endeavor. The cast features Paul Dano, who played a large part in the success of both Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood, and also Forest Whitaker, who nabbed the Oscar for Best Actor in 2006 with The Last King of Scotland. Spike Being John Malkovich Jonze takes the helm as director, suggesting that Wild Things is likely to be a quirky bit of cinema.

Of course, a huge part of the adaptation process hinges on the screenwriting, and interestingly enough, the script for the movie came from none other than University of Illinois alum Dave Eggers. Eggers, with a couple of really excellent novels under his belt, has made a name for himself as both an author and a publisher, and while this is his first foray into screenwriting, there’s reason to be excited. The man is an expert in the field of crafting plots and fleshing out characters. Where the Wild Things Are, as a story, will surely benefit from his contribution.

It seems like all the necessary components are there: an eccentric director, a handful of talented actors and a brilliant writer. So why is the production team hitting wall after wall?

The gossip surrounding this movie has been running rampant: The characters are not likeable enough. The whole movie is being reshot. Eggers and Jonze are being sent back to the drawing board. Perhaps these are simply rumors, but there is still room for doubt. It is, after all, several years past the original release date, and the movie is still in production.

I’m one to support my fellow Illini, but maybe Dave Eggers should have passed on this one. It’s no secret that Hollywood is pathetically devoid of original ideas, and the last thing we need to see is another classic book that gets ruined in the form of a movie. It will be interesting to see if Where the Wild Things Are even makes it into theaters. If it does, will it be a good flick, or will it flop? We’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, let’s open up the forum. What’s your stance on books making the transition to the movie theater? What are the best/worst adaptations you’ve seen?

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