A book that generations of children have loved has finally arrived in movie theatres as a film. It's "Where the Wild Things Are," a much anticipated release, although film critic Kenneth Turan says it has not been worth the wait.

KENNETH TURAN: It's painful to say this, but Maurice Sendak's beloved "Where the Wild Things Are" has been turned into a self-indulgent, cinematic misfire that neither parents nor children are going to like.

Sendak's story uses only 10 sentences and doesn't provide a lot of plot. To fill in those spaces, "Wild Things" expands on the sullen brattiness of nine-year-old Max. We first meet him throwing tantrums left and right. Sure, those qualities are present in the book, but blowing them up this way turns the film into a celebration of some of the most childish aspects of being a child.

Then Max bites his mother � hard. Terrified at the mess he's gotten himself into, Max runs away and magically ends up on an island where the wild things live.

(Soundbite of movie, "Where The Wild Things Are")

Unidentified Man #1: This is our family. I hope you can see how excited they are to have a king.

TURAN: These creatures look great, kind of like hipster versions of NFL team mascots. But once they open their mouths, things go downhill fast.

(Soundbite of movie "Where The Wild Things Are")

Unidentified Man #2: Ah!

Unidentified Man #1: Whoa!

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man #3: What were you thinking?

TURAN: Sendak's creatures have been turned into neurotic adults with dysfunctional relationships.

(Soundbite of movie, "Where The Wild Things Are")

Unidentified Man #1: Douglas, no. No, no, no. Stop. That's not the way I want you to do it. Here, I'll show you�

TURAN: To hear them talk among themselves is to feel like you've stumbled onto a group therapy session involving unfunny refugees from an alternate-universe, Woody Allen movie. Sometimes you are better off with 10 sentences than tens of millions of Hollywood dollars, and "Where the Wild Things Are" is one of those times.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times. You can watch clips from the film and read reviews of other movies out this weekend by going to

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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