Two nights ago, after about a year of saying I wanna see that, I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I know it only got okay reviews, but absolutely loved it! Yes, it had its goofy/bizarre moments, but tell me you don’t daydream about having superpowers or being able to get whatever you want. (Oh, and if you do tell me you don’t daydream I wont believe you. Your daydreams might not be as fantastical as Mitty’s, but they still exist). I am always relieved when I watch a big budget Hollywood film and it doesn’t fit into the mold. Part of why I like this film is because it doesn’t fit into the mold of current Hollywood films (it’s not a super-hero film nor is it about some heroic man), it is as, A.O. Scott states dreamy and melancholy. Mitty a photo negative asset manager a LIFE magazine, is always daydreaming about things he wants to do. I too am a daydreamer, so relating to Mitty is easy. Mitty is a cog in the LIFE wheel (and in his own life, nothing excites him and nothing seems to give him much joy), who longs to break out, and eventually he does (hopefully I can too).
Ebiri and Morgenstern say because of all the fantastical daydreams Mitty has, and that because Mitty’s great adventure is kicked off by a daydream, it is hard to get the audience out of that daydream mode and actually worry about Mitty, when danger finds him. Well Ebiri and Morgenstern, you’re wrong! There is a clear distinction between Mitty’s daydream of Cheryl, pushing him forward, and being circled by the shark in the ocean. Were you paying attention to the several minutes of water-scapes? And did you miss that fact that Mitty told the pilot he wasn’t okay. If those two things didn’t separate the dream from reality, this should help. Mitty jumped out of the wrong side of the helicopter, right into the cold turbulent ocean. If it were a daydream, he would have heroically jumped into the boat, the pilot would have given him and thumbs up and the boat crew would be cheering.
Once Mitty finally breaks out of his humdrum life, which I for one would very much like to do. Morgenstern calls his adventures preposterous. And while a few of the adventures are unlikely, not all of them are. We have already established that Mitty knows how to skateboard, so long-boarding down the side of a mountain isn’t impossible. (Yes, it is unlikely that you would so narrowly escape a volcanic eruption. But it’s not like many people can fly or change into a raging green monster.) Nor is it impossible to hike the Himalayas or in front of a waterfall. Most of the adventures Mitty went on may not be common, but at least half of them are things I would be willing to do.
If you are looking for something not in the Hollywood norm, that has adventure and a taste of both reality and fantasy I would check out The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You may be a surprised as I was. 🙂