The understated beauty and the elegant alchemy of CGI, live action and vocal performance in the titular wild things goes a long way to make up for Wild Things' not quite fatal, but certainly inescapable flaw. It takes far too long for the film's subtle plot--Max (Max Records, in a debut performance that is a tad showy) escapes his mother's wary eye and becomes king of the you-know-whats--to gel with its theme: how futile it is to control others' actions. James Gandolfini gives a wonderful, open-hearted performance as Carol, Max's wild ally, and the film takes off when Carol takes a dark turn in the last act. The gesture reminded me of a line in director Spike Jonze's Adaptation: "Wow them in the end and you've got a hit." Wild Things is close, but not quite a hit.