Where the Wild Things Are is a good movie. I anticipated its release, since I, like so many of my generation, grew up reading Maurice Sendak's tale of Max and his wolf pajamas. The film adaptation did not disappoint me, although it did wake me up to the rather sad message that the author was working to convey.
Max, a little boy who lives with his mother and older sister, has a vivid imagination, and he spends much time alone, dreaming his dreams. One night, when his mother has a boyfriend over, Max throws a tantrum and bites his mother. He runs away - in his wolf PJs - and discovers a boat that he sails to a strange island. The island is inhabited by the wild things, who themselves are watching one of their own throw a tantrum because another wild thing has gone off to be with her "other friends." It is clear that "Carol" wants the wild things to stay together as one united group, and the apparent loss of this one upsets his sense of calm and control.
Max enters and convinces the wild things (who at first want to eat him) that he is a wise king, who "can make everything better." The wild things - who are melancholy monsters - are temporarily lifted in spirit by their new "king." Max follows Carol to his secret cave, where he has a model of how he wishes things were, and Max says that they all can do it - make everything the way they want it and nothing bad ever will happen. They set to work.
Trouble comes when "K.W." decides to leave again and it becomes apparent that things are not going to be the way Carol envisions them. They realize that Max is not a king and the group falls into chaos again. K.W. explains to Max how hard it is to live with Carol's tantrums and his desire for control over others' lives, and Max seems to understand now what his home life is like for his mother. It is time for him to stop being a wild thing and go home.
It's interesting to see the wild things' desire for the king to make everything perfect for them and then their anger at him when it doesn't happen. It's a lot like how we tend to treat God. We want Him to make everything the way we want it and don't consider the rest of God's people with whom we exist. Then, when things aren't going our way, we dismiss God as a childish illusion. "If God were real there'd be no hunger." "If God were real, children wouldn't be born disabled." "If God were real my life wouldn't suck like it does."
The truth is, God doesn't hover over us like a master chess player, moving us as He wishes. Rather, we have freedom to choose our actions and then to live with the consequences. Sometimes we are "wild things"; sometimes God allows us to be. However, it is a sign of His love and trust in us that He allows us to choose our paths and walk them - even when they lead us away from Him. He is always there - waiting, like Max's mother - anticipating our return from the wild rumpus. Our role is to realize that life is not perfect and that we are all in this together. We can't make everything the way we want it, but if we search our hearts, together, we can help make it the way God wants it.