I have been wanting to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty since I saw the previews for its theatrical release. I’ve mentioned before that I rarely go to the theater to see movies. Just too big of an expense. (Something I rarely regret but did this time. More on that later.) I was so happy when it showed up in my mailbox yesterday from Netflix.
Although I’d been waiting to see the movie, I must admit I didn’t really know what it was about. The previews had some beautiful scenes, I’m a big fan of Ben Stiller, and my friend Liz raved about it after seeing the movie when it was in theaters. I didn’t know how much of what I saw in ads was Walter’s imagination and if any of the scenes were even things that really happened to him. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I think it’s best to go in not knowing. Too many movies are ruined by the viewer knowing too much before the opening credits even start. But, to give you a refresher, this is the synopses off of IMDB:
A day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.
Within the first 5 minutes or so, I got the feeling this movie (which is based off a short story written by James Thurber) was meant for readers. Let me explain. I find that I am constantly playing out short little movies in my head. I always felt that this was a result of my being an avid reader. Always thinking of scenarios that could happen…good and bad. Now maybe that’s just me, but I have a feeling other avid readers will know exactly what I mean. That is not to say this movie cannot be enjoyed by people who don’t read often or even at all. My husband is NOT a reader and he really liked the movie.
On some levels this is a deep movie; there are so many pictures and actions in the background of each scene you could watch this over and over muted and still come away with a story. Yet, on other levels, the film is nicely laid out for the viewer. After all, Walter works at Life Magazine as it’s being closed down. Their motto: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” As soon as Adam Scott (who I love in everything, btw) comes on the screen you know, by his beard alone, that he is the ‘bad guy’. You know Walter is the loner good guy who loves his family. You know these things, they are laid out for you, and that is fine. There’s a wonderful mixture of realism with the obsurd. (Walter’s cell phone works everywhere under all circumstances.)
Speaking of beards…I love, love, love how Walter’s inner transformation was reflected outwardly with his facial hair. Subtle but brilliant!
As I mentioned before, I had regrets about not seeing this movie in the theater. We have a pretty big television and surround sound, but it’s not a theater. The adventure scenes (mountains, chases through the city, the ocean) would have been beautiful to see on the big screen. If you, somehow someway, get the opportunity to see this on the big screen I strongly urge you to jump at the chance.
While I’m on the subject of Walter Mitty, I have discovered another movie adaptation from 1947 that I have got to track down and watch. It stars Danny Kaye!!! Yes, I’m a theater geek and I adore Danny Kaye. Not to mention Boris Karloff and Ann Rutherford! This seems like it could be a gem. At the very least (judging by the campy cover art) a ton of fun.
In case you can’t tell from all of the above, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I highly recommend it to all. This is one I need to get a copy of for my home collection because I will want to see it again.
One last note, with all my gushing I didn’t even mention the rest of the cast. Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn, Patton Oswald, Kristen Wiig, Kathryn Hahn. Any further doubt? Go watch this movie!
Are you an avid reader who daydreams? Have you seen either adaptation of this movie?