Friday, August 15, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Movie Review

"The Jill Come Lately and Jimmy Crack Corn and I don't care" reviewer strikes again:

This film is for all the underdog and top dog fans of Lonely Planet, National Geographic, and all the closet and accomplished adventurers combined.

The beginning is about the humdrum life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) who we find out later as one destined to have adventure but was sadly piled into a cookie cutter life of safe living and responsibility due to his father's death. At the point where we find him, his adventures and derring-do are only limited to elaborate daydreams referred to as “zoning out” which sadly, lands him the role of “office idiot”. Unfulfilled and forty two, Walter is relegated to the negative photos section of LIFE magazine. Walter is even unable to muster a plain “hello” to the object of his affection Sheryl Melhoff played by the capable Kristine Wiig.

Through his years of work and routine, he dedicatedly brings pictures of an elusive photographer - Sean O'Connell (played by a Bono-channeling Sean Penn), to the covers. Lending to the current day's relevancy, the iconic magazine is now losing print value and thus will be ushered to the electronic age. To ensure this transition, enter, the jerk-designee of the movie, Ted Hendricks, played by Adam Scott who is so good at making things downcast for Walter. Events ensue when for the last print cover of the magazine, a negative of a photo (no. 25) is nowhere to be found and it is up to Walter Mitty to get this materialized.

As pressure mounts to produce said photo, Walter uncharacteristically leaps on to a quest to find the photographer which will lead him to the negative. With one plane ride, the whole world dramatically opens up for him and his reveries become reality.

With Ben Stiller at the helm, his signature is visible in this film, it has the tendency of being noir, but the core message is romantic and positive. The pastiche of the written word mixed with the visuals is clever and pays homage to the advent of subliminal messaging. The entire film declares that that creative force named Ben Stiller we found early in his career is alive and well, when he allows it.


How this film speaks is the way that it strikes a chord on us ordinary people and the possibility of something awe-inspiring taking place even just once in our lives. Whoever we may be, whether living in New York City or Tacloban City, single or married, personable or paltry, we are prone to sticking to our safe zones because we are such creatures of habits and comforts and before long, we have created and trapped ourselves inside our own barricades.

The movie dazzles with the sites of the vast tundras of Iceland and Greenland, boisterous waves of a sea in the Arctic and Great White sharks. When placed in perilous circumstances, Walter is very “in the moment,” brimming with adrenalin and taps into one of his childhood skills, namely skateboarding, to get to the objective. With that, I was reminded of that booklet by Robert Fulghum, “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”

When Walter finally comes to the figurative and literal summit of it all, namely the Afghan Himalayas, a golden nugget is obtained. The slippery photographer is found at last and when he resists taking an ethereal money shot of a snow leopard in exchange for just being there, it teaches us that adventure does not mainly constitute its corybantic nature, but rather, it is completed when one enjoys the stillness as well. The sequence of the two of them playing soccer with the Himalayan natives towards the sunset also wins with the message that there is joy when humans are interconnected with a common ground.

The whole movie is symbolic that if we let go of the trappings commonly deemed as important by everyone else in lieu of indelible memories to keep, we become fulfilled.

Walter Mitty is ***** for me, despite what everyone else says. Capice?

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