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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Posted by admin on January 11, 2014

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I’m guilty of suffering from wanderlust. For those that don’t know, wanderlust is the condition of having a major desire to travel. I’ve started to receive this feeling ever since I graduated college. It’s probably the notion that I’ll probably not have such a chance at doing so when I’m an old man. Life is short and I’m looking to travel to as many places as I can before I settle down. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many wondrous places already. So I’ll talk about some of my favorite trips I’ve taken around the world so far.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve studied abroad for a while in Rome, Italy in 2010. That gave me the morale boast that I needed. I was surrounded by awesome friends and a new country to call home. In 2011, my family and I took a cruise that started of in Copenhagen, Denmark and cruised around the Scandinavian coast. This boat took me to Oslo, Norway, Helsinki, Finland, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Visiting each country introduced me to a series of new worlds that I hope I can return to. Nothing beats riding the roller coaster in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen or looking at old Soviet propaganda signs still up in Russia. I think it’s easy to say that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty will spark your own wanderlust.

Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) is a mousy man who thinks he’s done little with his life, apart from being a successful photonegative assets manager for Life Magazine (this has to be a period piece as the magazine ceased publication in 2007). He spends most of his days daydreaming that he were a more heroic person going on adventures. His current aspiration is his coworker Cheryl (played by Kristien Wiig) who he’s been trying to court for several weeks.

His daily life is struck when it is announced that Life Magazine has been bought out and that the famous periodical will no longer print. Under the pressure of a mean spirited transitions manager (played by Adam Scott), Walter is assigned to preparing the last photo for the cover. The problem is that the latest negative reel sent by famous photojournalist Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn) is missing the selected photo. He’s encouraged by Cheryl to go find Sean himself in the wild. So by using clues from the other photographs, Walter finds himself on the next plane to Greenland, where he realizes that his daydreams are about to become real.

What I love about movies is when my own prediction proves to be false. While I thought that the movie would be full of special effects-like, giant daydreams, there’s not that many of them. In fact, the fantasy themes are actually downplayed in favor of a story about a guy finding his place in the world while going after the girl of his dreams. I think what I liked most in this movie is actually Ben Stiller himself as Walter Mitty (and as the films director).

We’ve seen Ben Stiller play meek guys before, but he actually found a way to make his Walter Mitty stand out. He’s played as a man who was once the all around popular guy who needs to reestablish his identity. I thought that was very interesting as a contrast to Danny Kaye’s performance from the original. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty actually has good acting from the rest of the ensemble sort of becoming the Greek chorus for Walter. I only found two faults that prevent it from being one of the best of 2013. One, if you were hoping for a more philosophical message about traveling, you’ll be disappointed. Second, while I liked the ending for Walter’s relationship with Life Magazine, the full ending felt a bit too formulaic for something that was trying to be more surreal and abstract.

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I’ll give this four Life Magazine covers out of five. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty never reaches that level of the daydreams that Walter has, but the movie could have been a lot worse. I was hoping that this would have amounted to something bigger. 

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