Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

January 19, 2014 at 7:58 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw the original black-and-white version with Danny Kaye, and I was curious to see Ben Stiller’s take on this story.

The film goes through a number of phases: cringing, joyful innocence, and new found understanding.

The cringe phase is mercifully short, and I did not enjoy it. Walter, played by Ben Stiller, frequently zones out as he imagines himself out in the world ‘doing things’. This segment introduces Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff, who Walter pines after. Cheryl has a son, who Walter bonds with. There is also Adam Scott as Ted Hendricks: Walter’s mean boss. He plays a wonderful two-dimensional heartless arrogant corporate “suit”, who is responsible for all of the bullying.

Walter works for Life Magazine, and it has been taken over by some vast corporate who will make it an online only publication. There will be lots of jobs loses – though Ted keeps reassuring people that things will be alright. His job is to produce the last printed edition and at the same time shed staff – it is a tough balancing act but someone has to do it, and it helps if you don’t have an imagination.

Walter finally gets out of the print room – where they look after the negatives. After some improbable adventures he ends up in Iceland – in the middle of a massive volcanic eruption. Along the way he innocently endangers a number of people. It struck me that the icon of the ‘American abroad’ was alive and well.

Finally the film moves to the end-pahes, where Walter realises that the world is full of adventure, and that he can enjoy some of it.

The Iceland sequences are great advertisements for Iceland.

The film critercises corporate greed. At the end Walter says to Ted, words to the affect that “The people that you are getting rid of; they put a lot of themselves in the magazine and made it great.” By and large, the people working at the coal-face do their job well; the grave injustice is that someone like Ted comes along and tells them that they are very good at doing something that is no longer required – but is was an earlier Ted that told them to do what they do, and encouraged them to be the best they could at it!

Worth seeing for the Icelandic scenery and the unbelievable skating sequences – if you don’t like cringe moments come in 15 minutes late !


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