Yesterday I did something I don’t normally do. I “checked in” on facebook as we were going to see the new movie from Ben Stiller called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Within minutes, I had a few friends say they would be interested in my review. Rather than clog up the facebook timeline with a long thought out review, I figured I would use this space. Not only that, but it’s taken me about 24 hours to just sift through the thoughts I had leaving the theater. If you want the short version of the review, I loved this film.
Now here’s the longer version.
We took our entire family to see the movie. This included our children ages 13, 10 and 8. The film is rated PG and at no point did I feel embarrassed about words being used (there was one near the end that I remember but otherwise, pretty clean). There was little to no violence or blood. If anything, I would say that it might have been a bit too deep for the younger two. They didn’t complain, but I’m not sure how much they actually understood or caught what was going on. From a family perspective, it was good. It made for interesting conversation afterwards around the dinner table.
The first 45 minutes is a bit slow. Because Walter Mitty suffers episodes of “checking out” mentally and flashing to imagination scenes, it does jump around a bit. You begin to question if what you’re seeing is one of his dreams or if he is actually living out that moment. It’s an essential part of the film though so it needs the groundwork to be laid. From that point on, it is a thrill ride. I found so much inspiration in the last 3/4 of the movie. There is enough comedic relief to keep it rolling too.
At it’s core, this movie is about living. It’s about saying “yes” to opportunities and not just being stuck in the mundane. It’s about chasing after the unknown and discovering so much more in the journey. One of the greatest elements is the way that they weave every last detail that seems random into the big picture of the film. Nothing is wasted. No conversation or thing or moment is just coincidence. Everything matters. Everyone matters.
While there are moments of laughter and inspiration, this isn’t one of those “moved to tears” kinds of films. I entered the theater thinking that is what it was going to be, but it was not and that is absolutely fine. It didn’t need it.
At a later point in the film, my phone vibrated with a notification. When I glanced down, I read that my friend Robin had updated the giving total that we’ve been working on all week. If you missed the tragic story, we have been trying to raise enough support to send the body of a child that was tragically killed home to his mother in Honduras. Robins update was to say that we had not only reached, but exceeded the goal. I immediately was flooded with emotion.
I share that because it, in some ways, is what The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is all about. It’s about stepping into moments in life that are so much larger than yourself. It’s about saying “yes” to the unknown and seeing all of the good that still exists in this world. It’s about little moments creating a grand symphony. In that theater yesterday I got to watch a film portray it and experience it happening in real life.
One final thought. When the movie ended and the credits rolled, the theater remained silent. No one left. I think people were literally numb to all they had just seen and didn’t know what to say or think. This was all a good thing. Shouldn’t a film that we place our hard earned money investing in change us in some way? I don’t know if that is the reaction across the nation, but in that little theater in Dublin, Ohio, that was the response.
I give “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” a 5 out of 5.