The Rumpus Begins: 'Where the Wild Things Are' Premieres in NYC

Stars Forest Whitaker, Catherine Keener and producer Tom Hanks attend premiere.

Oct. 14, 2009— -- The concrete jungle of West 65th Street in New York City played host Tuesday night to a menagerie of celebrities who turned out for the U.S. premiere of the much-hyped and long-awaited new movie "Where the Wild Things Are."

On the red carpet outside Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall were Maurice Sendak, author of the children's book on which the movie is based, producer Tom Hanks and stars Max Records, Forest Whitaker and Catherine Keener.

Even this pride of celebrities, however, could do little to silence the evening predator of Manhattan's Upper West Side, the taxi cab horn. Through the honking and squeaking of rush hour, the stars somehow managed to unanimously praise director Spike Jonze, loud and clear.

Karen O, lead singer for the indie band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Jonze's ex-girlfriend, wrote the music for the "Where the Wild Things Are" soundtrack. Dressed in a metallic purple and pink mini dress and a petite black fur jacket, O admitted that even though she and Jonze were history, their collaboration on the film was "the best way to continue with [their] relationship.

"We always had an amazing creative chemistry with each other and a general sort of understanding, so it was fun," O told

Hanks, who co-produced the film, also sang Spike's praises. "There's nothing more extraneous than a producer on the set saying, 'What time's lunch?' I didn't need to do that," Hanks told "With Spike, the film was in good hands."

Lots of Pranks on 'Wild Things' Set

Max Records, the 12-year-old newcomer who plays Max, the movie's lead character, also complimented Jonze, although Jonze made him slide through the giant mouth of one of the Wild Things, with the aid of a jelly lubricant that reeked of rotten lemons.

"Jonze was fun. There were a lot of pranks on set," Max told

But Max wasn't just the brunt of Jonze's jokes. "After we finished filming those [gel] scenes, I had Spike come to my green room. I laid towels down, took a bucket of gel, and dumped it over his head," Max said. "I think he was more sympathetic after that."

A live-action movie based on the beloved children's book of the same name, "Wild Things" is about a mischievous boy named Max who gets sent to his room and escapes into a fantasy world inhabited by seven imaginary monsters who crown him their ruler.

With reviews of the film pouring in, critics are praising Jonze's artistic flair, but worry that "Wild Things" is too scary for children.

Max did his best to set the record straight, advising his peers to "definitely" see the film.

"There are parts of this movie that are scary but mostly it's intense," he said.

Time will tell whether moviegoers go wild over Jonze's adaptation of the classic children's book. But, in the words of author Sendak, "Let the rumpus begin."

"Where the Wild Things Are" opens in theaters nationwide Friday.