Max is a about ten. He has a rich imagination, he is very smart and emotionally sensitive. His father has passed away, his sister has reached puberty and only has time for her friends and his mother has her mind wrapped around her job and tries to restart her life with a new boyfriend. Max doesn't understand why the world around him seems to break apart, so he fights back.
After one difficult day he throws a tantrum and gets into an argument with his mother, upset at her he runs away. Soon he finds a boat, which takes him to the Where the Wild Things are. He is crowned king, and all seems well, for a while...
Spike Jonze took a great risk when he turned one of the most beloved children novels and turned it into a movie for adults, because at any point the audience members could've just stopped and think "Wait a minute, why do I care? It's a ten feet tall monster!", but he pulled it off. Maybe because he worked closely with Maurice Sendak, who wrote the original, and probably due to his talent in story-telling, the movie works. It is just one great trip through all those moments from childhood, we have somehow forgotten. The story works, and the characters are greatly penciled, even those who are on screen only for a few minutes, seem realistic and seem to have a complex backstory. Actually, that was the books original appeal, it managed to tell a huge story in 10 sentences, but making it so close to what we know that we could fill out the rest. So does the movie, it often just gives a hint to what is going on, but we get it.
The acting is great, Max Records, the boy who plays Max is incredibly convincing, but so are the others, Catharine Keener in a her short appearence as the mother, and all the actors who did the voices of the wild things seem great choices.
The imagery is beautiful, the pacing is just right, and although much of it is on downer tone, being rather depressive you come out touched, and feeling lighter, and the movie does that without appealing to all sorts of tearjerking tricks.
oh, and the soundtrack; an indie sort of deal at the same level with "Juno" and "Little Miss Sunshine".
I know there were a few little pieces about the movie I didn't like, but I can't remember which those were, which I think speaks for itself.