We saw this movie at a regular screening with our 4 yr old Grandson on Sunday 13 Dec 2009

Pepe's View

The fact that the theatre was less than half full on the first Sunday of the summer school holidays perhaps sums up the impact that this film is having on young audiences.  Having said that, this is a rather beautiful movie (for adults) .  However, it did not fully enthrall our Grandson and I think I can understand why!

The movie lacked simplicity - the relationships between the "Wild Things" involved adult concepts which largely left children behind.  The children were much more interested in the "clod" fight between the monsters and their "wild thing" rumpus. 

The movie involved a young boy who was lonely, sad and largely ignored by his Mum and sister who had better things to do.  He throws a tantrum and runs away (the original book had him sent to his room without dinner).  He then imagines/dreams an adventure with the "wild Things" where he becomes their king and attempts to make them happy by allowing them to do all the things together that he was not allowed to do in his real world.  This does not succeed in making the Wild Things happy however and Max eventually misses his Mum and returns home where his Mum greets him with a hug and sits him down to dinner.

Director Spike Jonz seemingly could not decide what his target audience was to be.  It was too complicated for the Under 5's (which the original book targeted), not exciting enough for the Under 10's and not really interesting enough for their parents.

Some of the cinematography was quite beautiful, the characters (especially the "Wild Things" were quite delightful - with an eye to the plush toy market methinks!

All in all a disappointing experience - spend your time with your young ones reading the original book - you and they will be much more entertained.

Score:  7/10

Ma's View

Perhaps a bit harsh, Pepe!  The creatures were indeed very appealing, but I would agree that it was difficult to gauge which age group the film might appeal to.  Creating parallel situations in the boy's imaginary world to those in his real world, the film attempted to explore the complexities of human relationships and the reasons for the child's anger and unhappiness.  At times, the dialogue labours the point and the creatures lose appeal as a result, lacking the simple joy that the book depicts.  The theme seems to be that people are responsible for their own happiness - you can't force them to be happy and nor should you allow your happiness to depend on them.  As an adult, I came away reflecting on this, but for a child, it was too complicated and therefore confusing and unsatisfying.  Overall, I think the film is worth seeing for its visual appeal and the acting of the little boy (Max Records) who was really very good in the role of Max.

Score:  7/10

Directed & and written by - Sophie Barthes

We viewed this movie at a preview screening on Mon 23 November.

MA'S VIEW :  This somewhat bizarre comedy requires a willing suspension of disbelief, being based on the premise that one's soul can be removed from the body for storage when it becomes too burdensome and even replaced by another more suitable to one's current lifestyle.  Paul Giamatti plays the himself, a New York stage actor who attributes the difficulties he is having with the role of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya to the state of his own troubled soul.  Once rid of it, he feels "lighter" and "freer" but his acting becomes correspondingly lightweight so, he decides to opt for a black market Russian soul to improve his grasp on the character - with great success.  However, he comes to feel even more burdened by the intensity of this new soul which he describes as "too large" for his life; he wants his own soul back but in the mean time it has been smuggled to Russia to satisfy the needs of an aspiring actress.

This complicated and ingenious plot becomes a vehicle for an amusing and thought-provoking examination of the concept of "the soul" and what it means to have one or not.  Giamatti is afraid to look into his soul, an option at the point of removal, but finds he cannot face life without it.  The souls of Russian poets are in great demand in America but when it is suggested that the trade should be reversed, the Russian agent asks "what Russian would want an American soul?"

I enjoyed this movie; the humour was off-beat, the acting very good and it sent me away thinking - always a good sign!  The ending was a bit unsatisfying but this is theatre of the absurd played well which made it easy to suspend disbelief - unlike its contemporary The Time Traveller's Wife which took itself far too seriously!



This movie is based on the very interesting premise that one's soul could be removed to make life more simple and uncomplicated.  One scene in the movie that particularly appealed to me was when the now soulless Giamatti was sitting listening to some of  his wife's friends discussing how to help a friend/relative who was on life support , he suggested helpfully that they could just "turn it off".  A  soul-less remark for sure.  The title "Cold Souls" refers on one level to the cold storage of the souls and on the other to the characters involved - particularly the architect of the scheme Dr Flinstein ( David Strathairn) and his counterpart in Russia who masterminded "soul trafficking".

The austere cinemtography of the scenes in Russia reflected a country populated with people who had sold their souls to the USA - do I detect a not so gentle reference to the "westernization" of Eastern Block countries?

The concept that the "soul mule", whose job it was to carry the souls of Russians to America had remnants of each person's soul left behind after each extraction made for an interesting thought provoking addition to the movie especially as Paul felt a closer attachment to her after part of his soul was left in her body because she "stole" it to satisfy her boss's mistress who wanted to be a famous American actor.

The only part of the movie that I found a little trite and unnecessary was the actual physical representation of the souls as being like chick peas, jellybeans etc.  This to me did not add anything to the movie which otherwise was extremely innovative and thought provoking and more than a little amusing.

I enjoyed the movie very much.