Entertainment, like life, can be pretty confusing. Marketing, whether it be televised commercials, print ads and posters, or viral campaigns, is so pervasive that a movie's basic premise and characters can be overwhelmingly familiar long before you even see the movie in question. Hell, one time I watched thirty minutes of "The Fisher King" thinking it was "Mrs. Doubtfire" before I realized that Robin Williams was playing a crazy drifter, not a cross-dressing divorcee. You can see how that would be an easy mistake to make, right?
This week, we're all excited. "Where the Wild Things Are", the Spike Jonze-directed live-action riff on the beloved children's book by Maurice Sendak, is finally hitting theaters. Finally! Let's not lose our heads though. Let's not let our excitement for "Where the Wild Things Are" lead us into watching other movies that we might easily confuse it with. For example, we must be especially wary of the late '90s mystery/thriller "Wild Things." Here's an easy guide to prevent media-induced dementia from directing you to the wrong movie.
Both movies are about troubled youths.
I know. The tale of a misfit boy taking refuge from the emotional turmoil of life in an elaborate, monster-filled fantasy and a story about two hot teenage girls concocting a massive scheme to get rich off of accusing their teacher of sexual assault are damn near identical on the surface. You could probably watch most of "Wild Things" thinking, "those troubled girls are probably going to escape to a fantasy land of kindly monsters in just a minute." Remember: the main character in "Where the Wild Things Are" is a boy named Max. He is 12 years old and not played by Denise Richards.
Both movies feature hot topless chicks.
Somewhere inside of everyone, whether you're young or old, male of female, lives a 12 year-old boy who's just excited to see a lady with her top off in a movie. This is why people watched "Wild Things" and follow-ups "Wild Things 2" and "Wild Things: Diamonds in the Rough." Topless chicks can indeed make you go crazy. Here's the thing: the topless chick in "Where the Wild Things Are" is a ten-foot-tall, fur-covered imaginary monster named Judith, not a dastardly eighteen-year-old bettie in a bikini. Confusing, I know. Just remember, if the topless chick is human, you're not watching "Were the Wild Things Are."
Both movies have totally sweet soundtracks.
Believe it or not, the song "Where the Wild Things Are" is most closely associated with, "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire, isn't even in the movie's soundtrack. That doesn't prevent it from being totally sweet though. Karen O and a rag tag group of guitar slingers have put together a delightful collection of indie rock ditties. A collection of tunes so righteous, it would be easy to mistake for the work of George S. Clinton. No, not George Clinton, legendary funk master of Parliament and the P-Funk All-Stars. I mean George S. Clinton, the funky original soundtrack maestro behind the OSTs for the "Cheech & Chong" movies as well as "Wild Things". This can get tricky, but keep an ear out for excessive riffage. If the guitars are squealing in a manner that borders on 1970s-porn-soundtrack, you're probably not listening to the work of Karen O in "Where the Wild Things Are."
There are awesome fight scenes.
Like topless scenes, cat-fights can also make you lose some much needed perspective whilst watching a movie. Seeing bad rich girl Kelly Lanier Van Ryan and goth-chick-from-the-wrong-side-o'-the-tracks Suzie Toller slap each other and pull each other's hair can definitely seem pretty whimsical at first. But rein that brain in! A sweet catfight is way different than a massive dirt clod fight betwixt imaginary beasts, no matter how much they both share in the whimsy department. Also, the monsters don't start making out at the end of their fights. You should probably use that as your major guideline.
They are tender stories about growing up.
There are certain lessons about life that you just have to learn on your own through painful, formative experience. Like Max in "Where the Wild Things Are", we all had to go through times of pain that we had no control over in order to become the functioning adults and parents we were destined to turn into. Just like how we all had to learn that engaging in massive conspiracies to swindle our rich relatives out of gobs of cash by accusing Matt Dillon of rape will never work out for the best. Yes, we all have to learn these lessons for ourselves. But when watching movies about these lessons, remember, the one with Matt Dillon isn't "Where the Wild Things Are." It's "Wild Things."
Now you know! And knowing is half the… something or other. You know what I'm talking about.