It has become an archetype. What if the monsters under the bed turn out to be friendly? What if young children can befriend and even rule such beasts?
That’s the premise of Where the Wild Things Are, the classic 1963 illustrated children’s book. That tale, which contains only nine sentences, becomes a feature film today, debuting in theaters everywhere.
The story centers around Max, a young mischief maker sent to his room without dinner. Isolated and alone, he falls into a world of imagination. A world ruled by fearsome creatures. He eventually conquers the beasts, becoming their king.
Visionary director Spike Jonze helms the project, and the film appears to be unquestionably awesome. At least that’s what we are led to believe by an excellent soundtrack, powered by Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer Karen O, and a breath-taking trailer, set to Arcade Fire’s anthem “Wake Up.”
This book, and now movie, sets the tone for child-monster friendships. Here’s a look at five of the best kid-friendly monsters to appear in movies throughout the years.
5). Sulley and Mike from Monsters Inc. – These guys form an uneasy friendship with a 2-year-old girl who accidentally enters their monster city, where beasts scare kids to generate power. These guys make the list because they protect the little one. They are also voiced by expert comedic actors John Goodman and Billy Crystal.
4). Gizmo from Gremlins – This little guy ranks as the cutest member of the list. He’s adorable, good-natured and kind to humans. He makes a great little monster buddy – as long as you follow the three rules. Don’t feed him after midnight. Keep him away from bright light. And never ever let him get wet. If that happens, his murderous brethren show up. The result could be a feature film co-starring Corey Feldman. Scary.
3). Maurice from Little Monsters – The tagline for this movie says it all: Some friends can be real monsters, and some monsters can be real friends. In this film Fred Savage plays a little boy who befriends a friendly monster friend. What friendly things does this monster, played by Howie Mandel, do for his human friend? At one point, he urinates in a bully’s apple juice. What a great friend.
2). E.T. from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – When I have children, I will forbid them from fraternizing with shriveled hunched people who wander forests late at night, but I will make an exception for E.T. He went above and beyond the monster buddy relationship. He taught 10-year-old Elliot, who seemed to be neglected, the meaning of friendship. Plus, Elliot will tell that flying bike story in bars and at parties for years to come.
1). Sloth from The Goonies – “Sloth love Chunk.” That says it all. Meet Chunk, a chronically overweight prepubescent forced by “friends” to jiggle his fat rolls as they chant “truffle shuffle.” Meet Sloth, a deformed man-beast chained in the basement of an abandoned restaurant by his infamous mafia family. The fact that these two found each other (and the secret treasure), really sums up the beauty of kid-monster friendships.
Honorable Mentions: Falkor from The Neverending Story and Shrek from Shrek.
Zack Quaintance covers monsters and entertainment for Festiva. You can reach him at (956) 683-4447.