Just Thoughts On: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Let’s get some dark truths out of the way first. I’m an awful writer. I suspect using a whiteboard and lots of string to connect ideas might help, but that sounds hard and there’s plenty of TV out there to left to watch. So instead, I’m going to be writing my thoughts on episodes after I watch them. These ideas will likely be covered in podcast form, but for the sake of timeliness and your ears, there’s this option. Some thoughts may be more like reviews than others and there will always be a recommendation of some sort. This will always be above the first picture so feel free to ignore it in the future.

I found this movie to be a sweet, if simple experience. The basic idea is that it’s worth it to get out there and see the world some time. It breaks up the potential monotony and the feeling of a lack of accomplishment.

Yet, it also doesn’t go so far as to say that the life that we lead is empty if it doesn’t involve globetrotting. I appreciated that about the film. There needs to be a good balance and balance doesn’t always mean 50/50. It’s not sustainable in any realistic way.

Ben Stiller does a good enough job as Walter Mitty. Nothing stuck out at me as being particularly special or off, but that’s not to say it was boring. He’s portrays a person who doesn’t know how to sell himself but is generally good-natured fellow. He’s responsible and caring, but clearly wants something more. His talks with the e-harmony agent are high points of the movie for me. In one of these talks, he reveals his desire for romance with a particular woman. However, he wants to happen a particular way. It is very similar to wanting a typical romantic comedy gesture or moment to happen. It’s not very realistic even if it happens for a few people. It’d always be nice to be one of the few, but shooting for that leads down dangerous roads. And this very dream-like ambition takes on a more damning trait. Walter Mitty is a chronic daydreamer. This fool appears to be less functional than a heavy pot smoker. His daydreams have a bit of charm to them sometimes but it really feels like Scrubs produced better ones. Apparently, that’s not where the Zach Braff disappears from this movie.

Much of the movie feels like it’s trying to be an Indie Romantic Comedy. There’s the soundtrack of non-mainstream mainstream songs. I recognized a lot of them and they weren’t too recent either. If I recognize them in a new(ish) movie, then they’re doing something wrong. I’m terrible at finding new music. There’s the staring off into the distance while contemplating and/or absorbing life. Can’t forget about the unlikely romance that possibly plays off the romantic comedy clichés or sometimes just playing straight into them.

The movie luckily doesn’t feel like it’s too full of itself, somehow. That seems to fly in the face of what I just said, but that’s how it comes off. It feels like there’s a certain level of honesty here that just feels a bit too familiar. That familiarity helps in some ways but hurts in others. There are encounters that don’t feel like beat-for-beat rips even if the bigger story is beat-for-beat. Ben Stiller is instills a familiarity that is broken up by a gimmick that starts to fade away as the movie gives you more of a reason to be invested. That fade is explained in the movie and makes sense once the movie starts to drift in that direction.

Makes sense might be being a bit too kind. There’s a lot of predictability in this movie. I don’t watch as many movies as critics and maybe not even as much as your average moviegoer. Someone who didn’t know his quest would take him back home for the answer would interest me on a scientific level. I’m trying my best to word this so it’s not condescending because that’s a perspective I’d really enjoy seeing more of. I guess I have to give this movie credit. They had the balls to go to that well twice. Maybe that’s why people weren’t too fond. It really was one of those, “Come on!” moments. The acceptance that came with that moment and the ensuing soccer match really drove home that laid-back attitude that Walter attained. Things may have worked out for him Homeland-style, but so what? This movie did a decent job doing what it set out to do. That’s more than I can say for these rambling strings of sentences that masqueraded as coherent thoughts just moments ago in my mind.

Recommendation: Catch it on TV or put it on in the background. There’s some eye-rolling to be had but I didn’t feel like I wasted my time.

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