What people might not know about me is I love movies about work and work/life crisis. There is nothing I love more than an epic quit and a person who realizes their life is worth more than the misery of an unfulfilling job. Perhaps this is why I was attracted to the 2013 retelling (not really a remake) of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty– one of those films I had been interested in but had never gotten around to watching for some reason (what this blind spot project is for!) Well, not only did I see it over the last weekend, but I watched it and the Danny Kaye original with my good friends Jen and Stanford, and we had a wonderful time together.
I must admit was a bit distracted watching the 1947 original but from what I could gather it is quite different than the 2013 film and the only commonalities outside of the names are the daydreaming tendencies of the lead character. The new film is more of an existential crisis movie where the older movie is a screwball comedy meets mystery.
The new film gives us director and actor Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty who is unhappily working at Life Magazine where his only joy in life is his brief interactions with co-worker Cheryl played by Kristen Wiig. One day he loses a key negative for the magazine’s final print issue and he starts a journey through Greenland and Iceland to find the photographer played by Sean Penn.
The cinematography is a stand out (you’ll want to book your trip to Iceland after seeing the film) and like I said the themes of work and what motivates our lives always intrigues me and it was no different here. Walter is a character that is easy to relate with and there’s a voyeurism aspect to the film. We all wish we could find ourselves in Iceland in such a dramatic fashion don’t we?
The only thing I could have used more of in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is more insight into Walter himself. For a film about life and the human connection we don’t get in his head as much as I would like to. It’s funny the streaming service we watched the movie on suggested Stranger Than Fiction as a similar film, and I do think that film explores work in a more humorous and insightful way while getting more into the lead character, Harold Crick’s, inner-most thoughts and desires. We see the transition and growth of his character more than we do for Walter and so the experience is more moving.
Still, I’m glad I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Particularly with some changes going on in my career at the moment its themes hit home and it gave me some courage to be bolder, more willing to embrace change instead of wanting to hide from it. If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend it and maybe if you are lucky you’ll have good friends to watch it with just like I did. I’m certainly blessed beyond measure.
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