Bringing the imagination to life – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Movie Review

One of the many good things about Christmas is all of the new movies that come out. You wait for them since November hoping the day will come sooner rather than later. That being said I was given some movie passes from a family friend, Maureen and I had one movie in to see with them. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which I have read the short-story that it originates from too. But before I can begin my review process, please take a moment to read this:

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Review postings include reviews on TV shows, books, music and movies. Reviews are simply, that reviews. I include information from each section and thus this information may or may not contain spoilers. Please take the warning now, if you don’t wish to see or read any SPOILERS, do not continue reading. If you do continue to reading, disregarding this warning, please don’t blame me if something is ruined for you. I did warn you after all. Also, review postings are my opinion and I stand by them. We may not have the same opinion and thus lets not argue over it.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is based off the short-story written by JamesThurber (same title) in 1939. The film was made into a movie once before in 1947. The 2013 movie adaption is directed by Ben Stiller (Tower Heist and The Watch), he also stars in the movie as Walter Mitty. The film adaption for the 2013 movie was written by Steve Conrad (The Weather Man, The Pursuit of Happiness). The movie runs for 114 minutes and of course came out on Christmas Day.

We begin The Secret Life of Walter Mitty seeing Walter at home balancing his check book. He also has his computer open and is looking at people on EHarmony, actually one person in particular. Walter is looking at the profile of Cheryl Melhoff (played by Kristen Wiig, Bridemaids and SNL). When he attempts to “wink” at her, the computer or website says “Unable to perform request”. Walter tries again several times and is given the same message. He heads to work and calls the EHarmony hotline for help. He is over the phone trying to fix what is going on with a guy named Todd Maher (played by Patton Oswalt, United States of Tara and Justified). Todd is trying to help Walter but he sees that is profile isn’t complete. While on the phone Walter seems to “space out” and enters his own imagination. When he comes back too he has missed his train. Walter works for LIFE magazine has a negative image specialist for the magazine and has been for 16 years. 

When he makes it to the LIFE magazine office building, he is greeted by his sister, Odessa Mitty (played by Kathryn Hahn, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and We’re the Millers). She gives a birthday hug, a clementine cake and reminds him them need to finish getting their mom into her new retirement community apartment. He takes the cake upstairs and runs into the Cheryl, the woman he has been having a crush on since she started a month ago.  Walter is also introduced to Ted Hendricks (played by Adam Scott, Leap Year and Step Brothers) who is in charge of the transition process of the magazine going from print to online. The company is going to be making some serious job cuts after the magazine prints it last issue.

ImageWalter watches Cheryl at the office and begins to space out again. He wants to romance her in a lot of crazy ways but he mostly just wants her attention. Walter heads down to his office where he has a present and the last images for the magazine. He owns the gift and sees that is from Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn, I am Sam and Milk). His gift is a note telling Walter it has been a pleasure to work with him through the years and that number 25 of the images if the one he wants for the cover and to take a look inside. He also gets a wallet with the LIFE magazine motto engraved into the materiel.

“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.” – LIFE Magazine motto

He looks at the images sent and realizes that number “25” is missing. Walter begins his search for the missing images while trying to dodge the executives who want to see the image for the final cover. Walter realizes that he is going to have to go find Sean O’Connell out in the field. He enlists the help of Cheryl to find where Sean’s last payment was sent.

ImageCheryl is able to learn while out with her son who likes to skate that the last payment was sent to Greenland. Walter shows her son Rich some tricks on the skate board that he used to do when he was a kid. Walter makes the decision to go to Greenland to find image “25” negative, hoping that Sean may have forgotten to send it. He arrives and learns that Sean has taken off onto a ship headed for Iceland. Walter has a drunk helicopter pilot take him out to the boat and after a very cold swim in the ocean and a fight with a shark, he manages to get onto the boat that Sean was last seen on. Once on board he learns from the crew that Sean left a few hours ago to Iceland to shoot more photos. The cake piece Walter is given has clues to what Sean is shooting. He follows Sean to Iceland and learns that he is going to a volcano. Walter trades his Stretch Armstrong for a long-board he can give to Rich when he gets home.

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Walter heads up the volcano and learns from the hotel manager that Sean left to catch a plane in the next town. Walter skates down the volcano and gets a phone call from Todd. He learns that the adventures he has been on have been entered into his profile and he is getting some hits. He also learns that Cheryl has deleted her profile. Walter hangs up the phone as he enters the abandoned town. The hotel manager arrives to tell Walter that the volcano is about to explode. They make a quick getaway from the volcano and Walter heads home.

He arrives back to LIFE magazine to learn that Cheryl has been left go and when he doesn’t have the image for the executives, he is also fired. Walter is about to give up but decides that he hasn’t ever not finished a protect and he hasn’t misplaced a negative ever. He decides to follow Sean to his last location in the Himalayas. Walter has to take the back way into the country through drug lord territory (which he accesses through given them cake) and climbing the mountain with two other men. He reaches a point where he has to continue on his own. Todd calls again to tell him more about the hits he is getting on his profile and Walter learns Todd is based in LA. Walter is forced to hang up when Sean tells him he is trying to work (camera in front of him). Walter introduces himself and sits to see what Sean is going to be taking a picture of. He learns it’s a snow leopard.

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Walter asks about image 25 and asks where it is. Sean tells him he included the image, in the wallet that Walter threw away when he returned home. Sean and Walter play a quick came of soccer with some locals and heads home. Walter is detained in the LA airport and he needs someone to vouch for who he is. That is of course Todd and he heads back to New York. When he arrives in new york, he is given the wallet by his mother Edna Mitty (played by Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel and Valentine’s Day). Inside of the wallet is image 25 in a small little envelop. Walter delivers the image to LIFE Magazine and heads home. He comes back to get his last paycheck and runs into Cheryl. He learns that her son loved the skate board he brought home and then begin to walk to the park together. As they walk they realize that the magazine has printed it last cover and image that Walter never actually looked at.

They go to the newsstand to see the cover and it’s a picture of Walter outside of the building looking at negatives. In that moment Walter smiles and realizes he doesn’t have to live in his head anymore and can live in the moment. Walter and Cheryl walk away hand and hand.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a movie I would hope you would want to see. I think a lot of us are like Walter where we “zone out” and just get caught up in our heads. We also have to learn to take the opportunities handed to us and to make life an adventure. I personally loved the movie and while it may not make number one at the box office, it’s a movie to see. My rating is 10 out 10 stars. I loved the adventure and flow of the movie. Ben Stiller directing and staring in the movie is wonderful combination and small humor moments make it seem very real. The dramatic turn of Kristin Wiig from comedic roles to this is beautifully done and shows her talent very well. I recommend that you go out and see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Below are three other reviews I think are good reads:

1. Screen Rant

2. The Playlist

3. Pajiba

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One thought on “Bringing the imagination to life – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Movie Review

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