OPENS: Friday 10/16
Based on the indelible 1963 Maurice Sendak children's book, this psychological fantasy from director Spike Jonze inflates the slim story into a fullon adventure. Frustrated by life with his single mom (Catherine Keener), Max (Max Records) runs off to an island full of giant beasts (voiced by James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose and Forest Whitaker) — and becomes their king! With Gandolfini voicing the insecure monster Carol, some viewers will get stuck on Tony Soprano in a children's story. The film, despite its PG rating, isn't appropriate for kids (very young fans should stay away, or risk nightmares!). It will be better appreciated by adults with a childlike spirit — especially the later scenes when Keener reunites with her son, which are truly touching. But those who loved the book for the spaces it left to inspire imagination, beware: The script overflows with relationship talk and a need to explain the story.
-- THELMA ADAMS