Max is a young boy struggling with loneliness. His parents are divorced. His sister is indifferent when bullies destroy his snow fort. His mother invites her boyfriend to dinner and ignores him. He tries to garner attention by putting on a furry wolf suit, stomping around, and behaving like an animal. However, he goes too far and bites her. When the adults yell at him, he runs away, eventually finding a small boat. He gets on and begins to sail, ending up magically in a large body of water that ends on an island. Sneaking onto the island, Max soon witnesses a group of large monsters, causing destruction in the forest, yelling at each other. A monster named Carol is angry, and the other monsters try to calm him down. Max, sympathizing with Carol's emotions and outbursts, steps in to try and join, confusing and bewildering the monsters. Some of them think Max should be eaten, others are simply bowled over by the existence of a little creature the likes of which they've never seen before. Max, in his wolf costume, convinces the monsters that he is there to be their leader, their king. Carol helps Max make a crown for him to wear, and everyone accepts Max into their group. Max wants them to feel free to express their anger and frustration as much as they want. Carol is upset that one of the monsters, K.W., keeps leaving the group and won't pay attention to him. This helps Max begin to understand what he puts his mother through. Yet when the monsters begin to bicker with one another, and Carol begins to suspect Max isn't a king after all, Max must decide whether he should go home to his family or face possible death staying in his paradise.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is a magical movie, with terrific effects and some great lessons for children-- it doesn't patronize kids, but instead deals with real emotions.
Best scene in story:
Max declares, as he does in the book, to "let the wild rumpus start," and the monsters all run about, throwing each other and uprooting trees. It's a beautiful sequence.
Opinion about the main character:
Max is a moody brat of a kid, but most kids have their bratty moments, and as adults looking back, we can see ourselves in Max's disruptive behavior.