Thursday, April 17, 2014

[Movie] The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I seldom watched a romantic-drama film because the end usually a bit too greasy or too good to be true for me. But romantic-fantasy-drama-comedy film, now that I can stomach. Here is one of the films that I think is good at lifting spirit and motivate yourself. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The are several version of this story, and the original one belongs to a short story written by James Thurber in 1939. It was later adapted into film in 1947 and re-adapted again in 2013, which is the new film. It seems that with each adaptation, the story differ a little bit, but the key plot remain the same. The story is about a normal man, named Walter Mitty, doing his mundane routine but have serious case of daydreaming to the point the he could just 'zone-out' in middle of doing something. Somewhere around at the point of his life, he would be caught up with a real-life adventures that even he couldn't believe are happening to him.

 Hence bring us to the 2013 romantic-fantasy-drama-comedy film of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Walter Mitty(Ben Stiller) is salary man, who went back and forth to his office day-to-day just like rest of us. He lives alone, wait, he have a mother and a sister with him which treats him like some average guy who have no higher aim in life. His sister, Odessa Mitty (Kathryn Hahn), especially relied on him for emotional and financial support. His mother, Edna Mitty (Shirley MacLaine), is an old retiree who loves making clementine cake during her free time.

Walter worked as the manager for Negative Asset Department in the Life magazine publisher company. There are only 2 person in that department, him and his assistant Hernando (Adrian Martinez) and they job scope are to receive photograph negative films and process them. He worked quietly everyday, and pretty much invisible to everyone. I think he wore sports jacket to work, that is sports jacket right? Everyone else is wearing black suits, you know, professionalism that sort of thing. So yeah, Walter Mitty is a bleak guy, who had a crush with his work colleague, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig), which he is too shy to approach. And also, he always spend his time alone looking at the negative films by the water fountain near his office during lunchtime. Until one day, everything changes.

Why can't I 'Wink'??
It started on one day, where he finally managed to gather his courage and tried to 'Wink' at Cheryl's profile in eHarmony online dating site. But he failed. He was a little bit upset, wondering whether his profile page is broken, or the eHarmony is broken, or worst case senario, Cheryl blocked him out even before he got the change to connect in dating site. Which is highly unlikely, because Cheryl doesn't even know him. So it must because of the eHarmony. That very morning while he was on his way to work, he called the eHarmony support staff, Todd Maher (Patton Oswalt) regarding on his 'Wink' problem. Todd said that eHarmony website works on a very delicate, sophisticated formula to matched their user with the most suitable partner. In order to maximize the matching probability, the user needs to fill in all of asked information. Preferably truthfully. Walter have some trouble with one sections, which is 'Been There, Done That' where he skipped it entirely. The only things that he 'been there, done that' are the things that he daydreaming of 'being there and doing that'. Pretty sad..

The Beard Guy.
But the day is not over and he missed his train. He came late at work, with his sister waiting at the lobby of his building and asking him to handle the furniture moving for their mother from the retirement house to her new place, right on that very morning which also happen to be his birthday. Just to appeal to his sense of compassion, Odessa brought along his favorite clementine cake made by their mother. Wow, what a morning. Wait, there is more. The company had just been acquired during the weekend, meaning that its a bad to be late to the office, because Life is going through some changes such as, a downsizing. To make thing worse, he met his new boss, managing director that responsible for the acquisition transition, Ted Hendrick (Adam Scott) a.k.a the beard guy.

Time to show my.. wait where is Number 25?
The beard guy is going to assess and evaluate the works at the Life to determine the essential works that need to be kept, well technically he is going to let go those he think wouldn't important for the new Life. It appeared that Life going digital, where its name is changed into, probably changed its publication from printed version to online website. So that day, Walter's birthday, he came into office late, mom's moving in, Life magazine have changed ownership, and also the Life magazine would be publishing its last printed issue. During that time, everyone need to show how essential they are to the company. Does online publishing needs negative assets department? I don't know. Its time for Walter to shine.

But it was very nice wallet.
Walter received a package from one of the Life most valued freelance photographer, Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn) which include the 'quintessence' of Life, his greatest work ever. So he said. Sean got the wind of the Life acquisition, and know that Life is going to publish its last printed issue, so he send a gift to Walter as a sign of appreciation of Walter's work, a wallet with the Life's motto. In the roll of negative film, Sean mentioned that his final and grande work is on the number 25 negative. But when they mounted the negatives, there were no number 25. And also, Walter's new boss also got a telegram from Sean regarding on the Number 25, being the quintessence of Life, for the final issue. Seems like Walter is in deep shit. He can't fail now, especially now.

Sean, I'm coming for the Number 25!!
In his desperation, Walter give an excuse to the beard guy that the negative film is being processed, good thing the beard guy doesn't much about photographic processing. He also went out of his way and approached Cheryl, who happens to be in the Account Department, to ask about Sean's payment. Which should reveal Sean's whereabout, if only he got the address for the payout. Turns out, Sean moves alot, and its going to some time. If there anything that Walter have at that moment, its not time. So he decided to hunt down Sean using the only clues that he have on his hand. The photos. The first one leads to the body of water, that have a picture of a boat on the edge, along with the ship's name. Erkigsnek. That first clue leads him to Greenland.

He managed to get to Greenland, but the ship is not at the dock. Actually, it doesn't even dock in Greenland, the ship received their mails and packages through a helicopter from Greenland. So yeah, Walter will need to fly there with a drunk helicopter pilot who on his way to send a radio part package to the Erkigsnek. But the helicopter wouldn't land on the sea, only to drop it off on a pontoon boat from Erkigsnek. Walter didn't know this, so he jumped into the ocean, along with the radio part package. He lost the package, had a fight with a shark (which the captain assures him that the fin that swimming toward him was a porpoise), and luckily got saved by the pontoon boat. But Sean no longer on the Erkigsnek. He already went to Iceland to visit the volcano Eyjafjallajokull.

All I want is negative Number 25!!
Walter asked the crew member whether they could drop him to the Iceland. The crew member said yes, because Walter dropped their radio part into the ocean earlier so they have no choice but to dock at Iceland the very next morning. Walter was both apologetic and grateful at the same time. So he got himself to the Iceland, but he had to cycle along the way because there is no other land transport on the dock. He got into a minor accident and damaged the bicycle while he was distracted by the cool view of.. okay he was daydreaming again. He ended up running all the way the nearest motel where everyone seems to be leaving hurriedly. He couldn't understand the native language, but the motel manager confirms that Sean was there and already at the airport. Walter quickly leaves but the motel manager tried to warn him something.

Turns out, Sean was on Iceland because the volcano Eyjafjallajokull was about to erupt. And as an extreme photographer, Sean was there to capture the eruption moment. Walter almost caught in the whole catastrophe if not for the hotel manager that raced to get him back to safety. The hotel manager helps Walter by pointing out a direction for Walter. But time is running out, and Hernando sent a message that he will get fired if the beard guy doesn't see Walter as soon as possible.

Walter finally gave up his wild-goose chase and return back to New York. But he ended up fired anyway, and the beard guy just shrugged the 'quintessence of life' idea and decided to make a new cover for the last issue of Life. Devastated by that.. Walter just went home almost broke. Well, he spend almost all of his saving for the exciting adventure of finding Number 25. An adventure that no one new about. Well, Hernando knew though, but that was mutual. While he was sitting in the living room, chatting with his mom, he told about the clues that he got from Sean. He said he couldn't decipher the final clue, the word 'Warlocks' from Sean's photo itinerary that he got from the Erkigsnek's deckhand. His mother corrected him, saying that its not 'Warlocks', its 'Warlords'. Sean told her so.

Its not ended yet, Number 25!
Walter was surprised, and turns out Sean actually came to meet his mother, asking about his work. Finally putting the whole pieces in the puzzle, his final destination would be somewhere around the Himalayan mountains, where Sean would be photographing the elusive snow leopards. Walter, unsatisfied that his work is half-done, continue to chase after Sean for an explanation, exactly what is the Number 25? Did he really send it? Or he mistakenly send the rolls, or the wrong label.. maybe its not the Number 25. Maybe its Number 2 and 5. Who knows? Well, Sean knows it, and if he is at the rooftop of the world, and there where Walter would go for him.

Which he totally did. Finally managed to catch up with Sean, barely, he found Sean sitting idly waiting for the snow leopard. When Walter told Sean what happened, Sean almost burst into laughter, disbelieving what Walter did just to get to him. Sean told him that the negative was in his wallet, the wallet that Sean gifted to earlier. Sean said, he wrote in his message that Walter should 'see inside' but Walter mistakenly thought what he meant was, to look inside the gift wrap, not the wallet.

Walter went back to New York, get his wallet back, found the negative inside a small envelope in the small pouch of the wallet, and handed over to the beard guy. The beard guy at that time was in a meeting, discussing about the new cover for Life's final issue (which is a pitch black cover with a huge title of 'End of Life'). I know, sucks right. So Walter just gave it to him without even seeing that the 'quintessence of life' really is. Turns out, it was...

Pictured: Number 25
Final Issue: Dedicated to the People who made it.
A tribute to Walter, even though he was unknown, ignored even. But in a small, tiny cog of the bigger machine, thanks to him that all of those great photos taken by the adventurous photographers got exactly where it was meant to be. His dedication to his work ensures that all those adventurous, thrilling experiences are conveyed to their readers. In his journey to find Number 25, Walter get to know about Cheryl, who have been helping him tracing the clues, and he finally able to break away from his mundane lifestyle.

Yep, in a way, don't we all too search for our Number 25?

Great motivational movie, I think I'll add it into my movie marathon collection.


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