The Providence Journal: November 12, 2009
The movie of the moment, “Where the Wild Things Are,” ends up as a muddle of a film story. Except that life is also a muddle. There don’t seem to be clear answers anymore, to anything — except those two points of light that recently arrived at the same place at the same time 7.3 billion years ago, reconfirming Einstein’s theory of relativity. Maybe we were not meant to be peaceful, or to keep a balanced budget, or to watch PBS instead of “Dancing with the Stars.” Maybe religion, politics and business can all ultimately be deconstructed as Madoff Ponzi schemes, befitting the most talented and daring schemers, the James Gandolfinis of the world.
Yes, we were born to be wild, and when we can’t be, we’re unhappy, but when we are wild, we create unhappiness. We want to play in puddles, but someone always gets splashed the wrong way, and so we end up in a muddle. Defeat, resignation and death ultimately save us from ourselves. Yet the final moment of the movie “Where the Wild Things Are” shows Max, the main character, smile at the thought of all this wildness. The point is laughter, and humor. That’s your wild side. It’s all a mess, we’re all gonna die, the sun is going to burst and the earth will become a dark cold, and uninhabitable place. So you might as well embrace your inner 10-year-old and laugh.
Who is the oracle of this, you ask? Who is the living embodiment of not Einstein’s theory, but the theory of “Wild Things”author Maurice Sendak? Perhaps it’s the comedian Larry David. His secret is to behave like a 10-year-old, albeit through the platform of a television show. Mr. David says the key is to embrace your immaturity and run with it. His show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” now in its seventh glorious season, was the natural extension to the defining humor of the ’90s, “Seinfeld.” While Mr. Seinfeld presumably moved on and grew up, and had a scandal, and a family and kids, Mr. David kept it going!
The essence of “Where the Wild Things Are” can better be found on Mr. David’s HBO show. Everyone is yelling and screaming and acting out, but ultimately laughing their way through the muddle.
Actual truth is probably 7.3 billion light years away. We mostly just want to know that someone is listening to our version of truth. The rumpus is in comedy. It’s in a smile, the moment that a face cannot hide. The moment that we give up all pretenses and laugh at what ego has erected around us, but which also keeps us too far from the wild ride we were meant to enjoy.
-- Chip Benson