Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Sleeper Life of Walter Mitty

I’ve always like Walter Mitty.  I saw part of the movie on TV once at my Great Aunt’s house and then read the short story and then watched the whole movie.  I can relate to Walter.  And I’ll argue with anyone who says that he’s about escapism, pure and simple.  There’s a far more complex motivation.  But that’s neither here or there.

I finally watched the remake this past weekend and it left me torn.  I didn’t think it had anything to do with the original.  That disappointed me.  But it was a fun movie to watch.  In the end, I liked it.  I would probably enjoy it even more a second time because I won’t have the expectation that it should be different than what it is – sort of like the Bourne Supremacy which I didn’t really care for the first time because I couldn’t get passed how much they ruined one of the best espionage novels I’ve ever read.

You may think watching a movie like Walter’s more than once to be rather dull since you already know what’s going to happen and there aren’t exactly exciting chases/fights/CGI migraine inducing flights of whimsy, or even the cleverness of the original’s fantasies.  You would be mistaken.  If I had any honest complaint with the film it was how incredibly predictable it was.  To be fair, it wasn’t as clear to the rest of the family so either I was in tune or they were content to sit back and enjoy it.

That’s also not much of a complaint.  You know exactly where it’s going from the moment you decide to watch it.  It wasn’t as funny as you’d expect from a comedy, and it wasn’t nearly serious enough to be drama.  Sort of exactly kind of like, well, you know… life.

Walter had a wonderfully portrayed arc.  Sean Penn let me down but that could easily have been his dialogue.  It didn’t matter.  This was about Walter and the movie took time to let us enjoy his adventures.  I mean, really, what other movie would invest so much time in long boarding down a deserted mountain highway in Iceland?  And make it worthwhile?

It was also very funny in places.  Clever funny and smart funny and bumbling funny without ever being gross.  The shark and porpoises.  It’s worth watching just for that.

Part of what made Walter so special before was his tendency to drift off into dream worlds all the time.  That happened a little bit in this version but really not very often.  It was talked about a lot, but we stayed with the real Walter most of the time.  That bothered me at first but it worked.  This was a different telling for a different time.  And it drove his arc.

If you think that Transformers 2 was the greatest movie ever made you will likely find The Secret Life of Walter MItty to be dull.  Otherwise you will discover a man you can root for, the quintessential introverted nice guy who learns it’s okay to chase your dreams.  Walter is different at the end of the film than the start, but unlike most other character stories like this, the difference is on the inside and his life really only changes for him.

The rotten tomatoes rating is overly harsh.

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