Whitaker Addresses ‘Wild Things’ Re-Shoots, Says Kids Can Handle Jonze’s Vision

Recent headlines have speculated wildly on the fate of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Advance screenings have reportedly proven too scary for kids, and resulting rumors have Spike Jonze’s flick being re-cut, re-focused, or even entirely re-shot.

According to one of the film’s voice stars, however, there are at least three kids who had no problem handling the horribleness.

“My children are 9, 11, and 16,” insisted Forest Whitaker, saying that he took his children to one of those early “Things” screenings. “It was intense. They liked it, though. They enjoyed it.”

The film is a unique mix of live-action, CGI, animatronics and enormous puppets, with Whitaker as the main monster. “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.”

So impressed, in fact, that Whitaker is becoming increasingly concerned by all those rumors that Jonze’s cut is under siege. “I’m going to call Spike and find out what’s going on,” he promised. “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.”

The good news for fans is that Jonze has stayed faithful to the book; the bad news for Jonze, however, is that he may have stayed too faithful to the book. “[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,” the father of four explained, citing one key scene of destruction as being particularly controversial. “[The main character Max] built this whole city, and nobody likes it, and he tears it all up. He’s like, ‘Well if you don’t like it, I’m just going to tear it up!’ because he wants so badly for someone to like it.”

“This kid 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 him…people have to build trust with the people their parent starts to date…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.”

After a recent announcement by Warner Brothers that the film won’t be released until October 2009, it seems as though drastic “Wild” re-shoots are on the way. Do you agree with Whitaker, or does the book need to be softened if kids are going to handle it on the big screen?