Movie Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Now and again, you just need to veg. Five and half hours on a bike will do that to you. My preferred vegging practice includes drinking a barleywine (Stone Brewing Company makes the best I’ve had), and eating leftover lasagna and homemade browned butter pumpkin spice cake with salted caramel buttercream frosting—(It’s okay, my pants still fit. I mentioned the 5 ½ hours on the bike, right?)—combined with two-ish hours on the couch watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

I’ve wanted to travel to Iceland and Greenland for quite some time, and even have a novel brewing that includes Vikings and Inuits (hmmm…can I write off a trip to Baffin Island as a work expense? It’s for research! Tax attorneys and CPAs, feel free to chime in ;-). Much of Mitty takes place and is filmed in Iceland, so it was really a perfect fit to my sub-cerebral state yesterday evening. (By the way, I can’t recommend enough taking a moment to escape the day by looking through cycling photographer Jered Gruber’s Iceland portfolio.)

Aside from the movie’s rather stunning cinematography, Mitty is lighthearted, touching, and just off-the-wall enough to appeal to those of us who enjoy things that are outside of the ordinary. You can read the synopsis here, but the most direct way of describing it is: a highly imaginative man finds the courage to unleash his adventurous spirit. The film mixes both subtle and oh-so-human aspects of Walter Mitty’s quotidian life with outlandish and spontaneous journeys, introduces normal and super-normal people, and quite simply makes you want to book a flight to the first place a dart lands on a map just for the experience. The beauty of Mitty is that it never gets caught up with the details and makes it seem like every desire, as long as it is genuine, can be achieved. The character of Walter Mitty himself also makes a perfect analog to us writers—people who spend as much time traveling through our imaginations as we do living “real” life—thus making the movie especially appealing, at least to me.

Definitely recommended for a quiet night at home, curled up on the couch with yummy food and whomever you’re closest to.

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4 comments

  1. Hi T, long time!…. I got “stuck” in Reykjavik once during a flight to Europe; the extended layover gave me an opportunity to explore for 1/2 a day. The city wasn’t all that interesting, but once you leave the city proper, the landscape is simply gorgeous, surreal, and other-worldly. By the end of the day, I didn’t want to leave. You been watching the Vikings?

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    1. Hi Scott! Sometimes unexpected travel delays are better than the trip, right? I haven’t watched the Vikings, actually. I don’t have the attention span to watch a series (which sounds weird coming from someone who has the attention span to watch 6 hours of bike racing, I know). Hope you are well!

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  2. I taught Thurber’s short story to ninth graders for years and would show clips from the 1940s version. It was pretty campy, but also true to the story. I know this version veers away quite a bit, so it will be interesting to see how that sits with me when I finally see it.

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    1. Hi Jeri, I never read the story, but I think I need to. It translated really well to the Stiller film version. I’d love to know what you think if you see it too. Thanks for stopping by!

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