Thursday, January 9, 2014

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn), a rugged, manly, adventure photographer, is everything Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) dreamt of being before life got in the way (literally and figuratively). Now Walter Mitty works for LIFE Magazine as a "negative asset manager" and is on the receiving end of all O'Connell's negatives for publication. While he fantasizes of adventure, romance, and fame, it isn't until a new woman, Cheryl (Kristin Wiig) joins the LIFE team and he tries to woo her on that he realizes just how little he's done or seen. When he loses the negative from O'Connell titled the "Quintessence of  Life" for the final print issue of the iconic magazine, Walter sets off on an adventure of a lifetime to find the elusive O'Connell in order to track down the negative.

Even if this plot is completely non-believable (who can climb the Himalayas on a whim without and ounce of training or know how for example) and the character's slightly caricature-ish, I must say that Sean Penn's and Ben Stiller's brought life to them in a way that seems redeeming.The beauty of this film is that we've all felt like Walter Mitty at least once in our life. We've all felt like "real life" has gotten in the way of our "dream life." And we've all looked to someone else who seems to "have it all" and wondered how it would feel to be that person.

The feel of the film reminds me of Stranger Than Fiction and many of the same themes from that film were echoed in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as well. So while Walter Mitty and his story may be the ultimate Mary Sue on a quest trope, I think it can still inspire us all  “to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.

At least I know I've added, "travel to Iceland," to my bucket-list!

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