I know what you're thing, "why are you comparing these two films, they are completely different. One is a crime film about the rise and fall of a Italian mob, while the other is about a little boy who joins a bunch of wild monsters." Well...yes and no. On the outside they are about as different as apples and oranges but thematically they are the same. What inspired me with this was a Youtube comment on WTWA soundtrack Track 1 video about this person perferred Fight Club
over Where The Wild Things Are
and I thought that it was weird but it fit!
They both have a because a misfit joins a rambunctious but dangerous group in order to get away from the conformity of the world they live in. The Same comparison can be made with GoodFellas.
The Opening Scene
Again both opening scenes are radically different but both set up the mood of the films and both are violent in a different way.
In the opening shots you see the main characters. Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and Max (Max Records) involve in violence both in different ways. Max is first seen in his wolf costume and trying to attack his dog as he chases the dog down the stairs and wrestling it to the floor. In GoodFellas Henry, his companions, Jimmy and Tommy (played by Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci) kills a brutally beaten Billy Bats inside of a trunk of the car you hear the immortal words in voiceover:"As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster." Both opening shots of the two films sets up each main character differently but by the first few minutes you recognize that both characters want to be larger than life and uses violence to get what they want. Both being a monster and a mobster is a glorified lifestyle that they want to be part of.
Henry And Max
These two have different motivations for being what they want to be but one thing they want to do is escape the norms and rules of society they live in. The only way to get anything from life is to act deviant. Both characters are a sort of antiheroes but Max, I believe, is more likeable of the two. it is interesting to note that their mothers disapproves of their new outfits: a wolf costume and a new gangster suit. Henry and Max enjoy the life they habour so much so when violence come into play they become survivors more than big shots whose compromises destroy their relationship they have with the friends they made within the circle. I think in order to sum up the comparisons between the two I think this quote from Henry sums up Max's idealization of the Wild Things
, "To me, it meant being somebody in a neighborhood that was full of nobodies. They weren't like anybody else.
The Monsters And The Mobsters
I honsetly believe there are no difference between the two. The Wild Things, Jimmy, Tommy, and Paulie all have all the same ambitions but for different reasons. Jimmy, Tommy, and Paulie try to perform deviant acts in order to move up in the world more quickly and enjoy doing theis even if it means committing to acts of violence. The Wild Things can be argues that there is no similarities between them and the mafia from GoodFellas but that's not true. Much like Max, the Wild Things try to do things to be accepted equally as well in the group and sometimes it means stepping other people's toes. All of them represents Max's repressed feelings especially Carol (whom Max befriends throughout the film) represents Max's fears and aggression.
Out of all the characters Carol fits Yoda's description of the dark side in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you."
The same can be said of the mobsters in GoodFellas. All of them represents Henry's conscious and temptations. Paulie is Henry's superego, Jimmy is his ego, and Tommy's id. As far as putting this interns of WTWA's Carol is definitely a combo of Jimmy and Tommy who is nice and soft spoken but is dangerous when angry and much like Tommy DeVito he always exercises his rage instead of letting it go. Both Carol and Tommy never learns to relax and enjoy their privileges, the y always is in the background but had a demanding presence and seems to know what's good for both Henry's and Max's good.(Ebert 282)
In the end both Max and Henry both are forced to leave the gang that they loved being with so much. Knowing that both of them have become dangerous. In some ways the GoodFellas ending is similar to Maurice Sendak's ending than the film's WTWA is! Although Henry is not happy that he left the life while Max comes back home and is a more humbled and wiser little boy. I think if Martin Scorsese was given to direct WTWA it would've been something similar to what Spike Jonze has done only have him do his own voiceover.
*Ebert, Roger. Scorsese. University of Chicago, 2008