Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

2013, Ben Stiller (Reality Bites, Tropic Thunder) -- download

The young boy stares out the car window watching the world blur by. The seemingly endless landscape of passing trees is broken as a man on a flying surfboard matches speed with the car. Up and down, over and around the obstacles, the not so silver surfer travels his own road. This was the kind of thing I was prone to as a child, and whenever I am rarely on a long car ride these days, I might slip back into it. The surfer may be replaced by a piloted giant robot or a man running faster than the speed of a bullet. I never will stop getting lost in staring in space day dreams.

Walter Mitty is a meek man prone to fantasy. It is not so much to escape his life, as his life is pretty good, being the film asset manager for a fictionalized version of Life Magazine. But his life is very stable, very unexciting. So he lapses into fantastical daydreams inspired by something in the background, say a travel poster into a mountain climbing alter ego or the fact the girl he likes having a dog gives way to a burning building dog rescue. If you take the trailers at face value, these segments dominate the plot of the movie, but truly, they just give a couple of characters a chance to notice Walter when he zones out. One uses the moments to bully him and one to actually acknowledge him. It is these noticings that have him decide to step outside his comfort zone and pursue real life.

The driving plot for this movie is the pursuit of a single negative. It is to be the last photo for the last cover of Life (which actually died in 2007), now converting to online only. The adventurer photographer delivered it cryptically, but it is misplaced, inspiring Walter to find him for an explanation. Thus boats, planes, cars and skateboards. Thus Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas. We the viewer know exactly where the negative is, but Walter doesn't. He also doesn't realize he is now living that daydream fantasy. A little heavy handed, but yeah, I loved it. Its my age, my life my legacy to be lost in fantasy while real life passes me by. But what does it say to anyone that one of my fantasies is to have a job like he did, one he was so wrapped up in that he spent his whole life doing the same thing and being full of passion for it until its very last day. It wasn't too late for him to find adventure; is it too late for me to find passion?