Where the Wild Things Are is a children's book by late Maurice Sendak. It was originally panned by critics, but has since become a beloved classic.In the book, Max is an angry little boy in a wolf costume who can't control his emotions and is sent to his room. There he is (depending on your interpretation) transported to/imagines a world populated by semi-feral monsters and is crowned their king because of his wild emotions. At first happy, he eventually grows tired of acting like a wild animal and goes back home.There are two film adaptations, the more recent one directed by Spike Jonze of Being John Malkovich fame with a soundtrack by Karen O.In the Spike Jonze film, Max is an angry little boy in a wolf costume who is very intelligent and resents that his sister feels too old to spend time with him and that his mother's life is too busy to give him the attention he desires. This causes a conflict that ends with him running away to an island populated by semi-feral monsters who crown him king out of a need for someone to take care of them and their emotional needs. Unlike in the book, the monsters all have their individual characteristics and personalities that are usually in some way a reflection of portions of Max's personality. Although Max tries his best, eventually he realizes he loves the monsters but cannot be the leader or parent they need and returns home to his mother with a better appreciation of what she goes through. Most of the following tropes will deal with the film version (see Adaptation Expansion).
Scenery Porn: Both the original's illustrations and the film has this a lot.
Shout-Out: Not an example within the book/movie itself, but it was given multiple shout outs in Alt-J's song Breezeblocks (to the point where the entire bridge goes "please don't go, I'll eat you whole, I love you so.")
Specific to the book:
No Name Given: All of the monsters. Sendak had names that never appeared in the book for some of them — Tippy, Aaron, Moishe, Bruno, Emile, Bernard — but never gave a name to the goat in the books or art (he's just referred to as Goat Boy).
Ironic Echo: In the beginning of the movie, Max runs away from home after his mom says he was out of control after he bit her. By the end, Max says that Carol is out of control after Carol ripped off Douglas' arm, Max then proceeds to run away from an enraged Carol. And the same music plays both times!
Mr. Vice Guy: Max, and ALL of the Wild Things with the vice being raging emotions.
Mythology Gag: Perhaps not intentional, but Alexander's character was the only one who didn't get a nickname from the writer. In the movie, he's ignored by everyone to the point where he might as well not exist.
No Name Given: The bison/bull in the movie. Bernard, per the credits and one brief line.
Sadist Teacher: Max's class on astronomy drifts off into a discussion on how everything is going to die, and a list of all the ways all of humanity could be wiped out, delivered cheerfully obliviously to a class of 9-year olds.
Max's mom also has a phone conversation with a "Mr. Lasseter". Back in the 80's John Lasseter attempted to make a WTWTA movie with Disney. It would have been one of the earliest examples of CGI in film, featuring traditionally animated characters in 3D CGI environments.
There's a scene where Max is being shown his "kingdom", which is a pretty obvious reference to The Lion King. Some of the dialogue is very similar to that scene, as well.
Teens Are Monsters: Played with. Claire's friends don't wreck Max's snow fort out of malice but out of playing too hard for the smaller kid. They even look genuinely upset when they realize what they've done — but are much too self-conscious to apologize.