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Shocker: The Box-Office Goes “Wild” Over a Kid Movie That Freaks Some Kids Out. Is It the Best of the Breed?

Pinch me. I must be hallucinating. A truly great movie, the Spike Jonze film of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, hit the box-office No. One spot, a space usually reserved for the wretched likes of Couples Retreat or the violently stupid Law Abiding Citizen, which had to settle for runner-up status. How did quality win out?

Maybe Sendak’s classic tale of childhood lured in the family trade. But were the tykes horrified at the rebel approach Jonze takes to movies — dump the linear plot, let visuals tell the story and don’t be afraid of the dark? We’ll find out next week when Wild Things holds steady or tumbles in the heat of parental indignation. Either way Jonze made a movie that honors the source and his own reputation as an innovator in such films as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. The $32.5 million pulled in by Wild Things is a Jonze opening record.

Today’s question relates to kids movies that grown-ups might like just as much or better. Where the Wild Things Are certainly ranks high on my list. But the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, with Gene Wilder as the Candy Man, is also a personal favorite for the deliciously twisted. And this year’s 3-D Coraline, from Neil Gaiman’s book about an alternative parental universe, could give pause to impressionables of all ages. Ditto Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. And who recalls Jim Henson’s chilling Labyrinth with a wonderfully creepy David Bowie as King of the Goblins?

What’s your favorite kid movie that might give kids the heebie-jeebies? Where the Wild Things Are might just whet their appetites.

More Wild Things:
Travers Take: Peter Travers’ Four-Star Review
Exclusive Video: Behind the Scenes of the Movie’s Stunning Effects
Maurice Sendak, King of All Wild Things: The 1976 Rolling Stone Profile

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