Sunday, December 8, 2013

03 Dec 13 - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

 "...Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide no escape from reality..." 
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody

What if you could experience your greatest, wildest adventure in your life ...without imagining it?

SouthSide believes John Lennon said it best " is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..." Yet in Walter Mitty's case, (real life) adventure seems to be passing him by while he's too busy living a life that's mundane and honestly boring. That's the theme of Ben Stiller's newest movie - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in which he portrays the main character, Walter Mitty, who gets to experience life on the edge by taking an incredible adventure of a lifetime, blogspot readers.

Based on a short story by James Thurber, Walter Mitty (in this movie) works as a Negative Asset Manager at Life Magazine for the last 16 years yet life in reality seems to pass him by. He doesn't take risks according to his ABC philosophy - Adventurous, Brave and Creative yet he does when he "zones out" i.e. daydreams "what if" situations whenever it comes to expressing romantic feelings for his fellow co-worker, Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) or having an all out, winner takes all street brawl with the Acquisition Manager (Adam Scott) in which Walter pictures himself as the dashing hero to the amorous lover to daring adventurer and much more. However when a real life situation involving a missing photograph negative taken by a world famous photographer, Sean O'Connell (wonderfully played by Sean Penn), Walter Mitty literally dives into an adventure of his life that takes him to far corners of the world ...places and new experiences along the way - enough to fill a travel journal or two. Not even his imagination could ever think of the things he's done during his worldwide search for Sean O'Connell.

SouthSide highly recommends seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty when it opens in theatres on Christmas Day, blogspot readers. Ben Stiller handles the role as Walter Mitty with a little less comedic flair and more like the "everyday man"  than the others in which he starred in movies like Tropic Thunder and The Little Fockers. Here, Walter Mitty portrayed like the average lonely guy looking for love on E-Harmony site ...seeking a way to validate his mundane boring life into something that he feels (at first) is unattainable because of commitments to his job and mother (portrayed by legendary screen actress Shirley MacClaine) as well as his inability to take that first step or risk. For example, after meeting the drunk karaoking helicopter pilot in Nuuk, Greenland who offers to fly him to the ship, Walter "zones out" to picture Cheryl acoustically playing David Bowie's Space Oddity to get him make that giant leap of faith ...not for the pilot flying the machine but for himself into joining a drunk person to fly him over choppy ocean waters to a tanker. There are other instances in which Walter has to either rely on wit or ingenuity during his travels discovering more about himself  and the world (i.e. did you know there's a Papa John's in Iceland?) as well as at the same time solving what Sean O'Connell sent him as Life's final cover photo.

This reviewer enjoyed how Ben Stiller surrounded himself with a wonderful supporting cast of characters from Kristen Wiig as the love interest who's divorced with a son interested in skateboarding to Todd (Patton Oswalt) who somehow manages to reach Walter at the most awkward moments throughout his travels to discuss about his E-Harmony profile - he was the comedic relief during the serious moments of this movie, blogspot readers. Never knew anyone could get great mobile reception near the top of the Himalayan Mountains ...SouthSide would like to know for sure. Shirley MacClaine once again proves she has a funny bone while portraying Walter's mom despite her scenes being very limited she does have a way of giving Walter a clue (or two) or some sound wisdom through her humorous wit into the mystery he's trying to solve. Sean Penn as the Life photographer Sean O'Connell was the perfect actor for this role. He portrays him as the wise yet mysterious photographer who thought Walter Mitty was just a mythical employee at Life magazine just as Walter thought the same about him. Yet, when the two finally meet, that scene (with limited conversation) is defining moment of truth for Walter ...actually the entire journey it took to reach Sean Penn was, blogspot reader. However, when Sean and Ben are together, there's something magical that not only happens to Ben's character but to all of us in the audience. SouthSide won't say what it is because that will spoil your movie-going experience, blogspot readers. Let's just say's an eye opener.

Besides portraying Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller also handles the task as director of a cinematic feature for a fifth time, blogspot readers. Unlike his previous work, Ben turns The Secret Life of Walter Mitty into a sort of visionary work of cinematic art where each scene especially when traveling the world has a breathtaking view. From the volcano erupting in Greenland to playing soccer in Afghanistan and shooting the curl down the winding road, Stiller pays close attention to each scenic detail which bursts to life for the audience ...almost like a Kodak panoramic picture with vivid colors and photographic imagery. Ben also doesn't use the "standard" New York scenery (i.e. The Plaza Hotel, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, et al) either. Instead, he uses out of the ordinary places that SouthSide noted to show how mundane his life can be. Place such as a housing project complex (where Walter lives), upper New York transit line station and deep within the bowels of Life magazine where the photographers and negatives are stored. This reviewer also noted that Ben and his cinematic team carefully chosen each foreign location to give Walter as well as the audience one incredible movie journey. Plus, he creatively uses Life magazine's motto that helps motivate Walter when starting on this journey ...or Cheryl's summation of David Bowie's Space Oddity to inspire him before he leaves and while in Greenland.

Overall, blogspot readers, what an adventure you'll take when you see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. And when it's over, be inspired to search for yours...

Until next time, support your local scene,

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