With everyone feeling down with the grim reality of Covid-19 looming I decided to do a feel-good throwback on one of my favorite movies entitled The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), an adaptation of James Thurber’s classic short story. I love this movie! Probably because at the core I am a nomad, living for the unknown, never afraid to take a calculate risk. Given we are all feeling endlessly restless from many weeks in lock down what could be better than to virtually escape into foreign lands and roads untraveled. As LIFE’s Motto states, “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” And I’m lovin it!
This film opens with daydreamer Walter Mitty (fabulously played by Ben Stiller), a very bland white-collared negative assets manager/picture researcher at LIFE Magazine in New York City living an uneventful vanilla lifestyle trying to take a gamble on a dating website. When his online attempt fails due to his unfinished eHarmony been-there-done-that profile the movie tumbles into a fabulous daydreaming-turned-reality adventure of self-realization. The film highlights that living in your own head is not living at all. Stepping or jumping out of the box is required to really experience the present and live a big life. Pushing the limits of the human spirit is what it is all about. Not letting everyday problems and doldrums rule the day. This movie entertainingly rolls out how taking chances allows the authentic self to be revealed. In short, live in the moment and just enjoy every minute. This is an important message no doubt, yet not the primary take-away of this film. Instead the overriding life lesson this flick imparts is more about understanding, recognizing, cherishing, and acknowledging all the amazing people hidden behind the scenes of our being that propel us forward and make us shine so bright. Unseen vs. Unnoticed – Sean Penn who plays sought after (successful, brave, tough, fearless, rugged, handsome) illusive LIFE photographer Sean O’Connel said it best ‘beautiful things don’t ask for attention’ but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it. Hats off to all the Ghost Cats in our lives.
Directed by Ben Stiller, this movie incorporates a star-studded cast starting with Kristen Wiig as Mitty’s colleague/love interest Cheryl Melhoff, Shirley MacLaine as his mother Edna, Kathryn Hahn as sister Odessa and Adam Scott as boss Ted Hendricks to name a few. All of which did a great job in their roles though I thought Ben Stiller outshone them all. He did such an excellent job portraying Walter Mitty as someone who wants more out of life but does not come across as depressed or completely unhappy. Instead he is just a regular guy that zones in and out of reality indulging in fantastical delusions of grandeur to cope with his boring life. That is until he can’t locate the most valuable film-roll negative slated to be LIFE Magazine’s last-ever print issue Cover, which in turn reluctantly propels him on a quest to find it. Doing so unexpectedly helps Mitty expand as a person and unwittingly increases his confidence and self-belief. Basically, he finds identity through his adventures. In the process Mitty evolves into his best self by learning he is valued by those he values. Something I think we all strive for. After all, ‘Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.’― Voltaire. This film also humors viewers with some nice illustrations of the imagination before snapping us back to the now. I liked the inventive fantasist components almost as much as the factual aspects of Mitty’s life. Although this story could be contrived as too airy and perfect, I happen to like a good RomCom once in a while. On that note, I loved how at the end of Mitty’s journey the real thing turns out to be so much better than anything he could have made-up. I know that sounds sappy but what’s wrong with a little fantasy every now and then. And of course, I loved how Mitty’s mum saved the day too! Mums are the best after all. ha ha
PS. Similar to the Walter Mitty character, for me living my best life means travelling as much as possible. I worship freedom and being on the go wandering the world. Lucky for me a lot of my travel is humanitarian based or work related, which adds another meaningful layer to my expeditions. That said, I also really enjoy my structured everyday life, but some of my best moments are when I’m in some incredible foreign land seeing and doing spectacular things while not even knowing or caring what day of the week it is. This is when I feel I am truly awake in my life and I love that feeling. On that point, it is worth noting that the cinematography in this film was delightful in its display of stunning landscapes, some of which I have visited. This movie also gave Iceland its first leading role in Hollywood, which definitely made many explorers like me want to visit this enchanted place even more. For the record seeing Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull was phenomenal and witnessing its famous Strokkur Geyser erupt in front of my eyes was truly life altering. In a flash I genuinely comprehended just how alive our planet really is. Amazing. Cheers to all the roving gypsies like me (in practice and at heart). It won’t be long before Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, and we are back on the road again. Bless.