Editor’s note: one of many submitted book reports for Mr. Key’s humanities class.
Student: Aidan Woodall
Film: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Director: Ben Stiller
Genre: Drama, Dramedy
“Stiller has aimed high, and even if he hasn’t made it to the top, the view is still pretty good
from where he ended up.”
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the gripping story of a LIFE Magazine worker looking for a
missing last image, all while making his way into the heart of a coworker. Walter Mitty, the main
character and namesake of the film, daydreamed often, which was a large part of the film.
What this film was really about was how people should be adventurous in life. This film’s
definition of ‘adventurous’ is to travel and spend lots of money doing so. It also seemed
that “adventurous” meant to leave a comfort zone, which isn’t exactly necessary, as many have
been adventurous in the comfort of their own home. Adding on to this, in the first part of the
film, the theme was how office workers are boring and are often made fun of, which isn’t true
(look at The Office, or Office Space). Mitty was a bit of an oddball in the beginning, causing
other workers to pick on him sometimes.
Another theme of the film is, indirectly, to do various activities for love, or to impress someone.
Mitty was on a dating site, and often spoke to a worker of it on the phone, who was constantly
impressed by the feats that Mitty had done.
It wasn’t expected of this film to be that clichéd, and, in a way, it was. The cool part is that it
didn’t follow that many mainstream clichés, as it was trying to be different, but it created its
own clichés that will probably be used one thousand times in the future. It may have had some
love story tropes, like seeing the love interest’s face in the formation of birds, but it wasn’t
that clichéd. A cliché that was commonly found in this flick is how the oddball gets the girl
in the end, which can be found in many children’s/young adult books. This may be a way for
the filmmakers to say “Hey, there’s someone out there for everyone,” but that someone may,
coincidentally, be the person that everyone at the workplace likes deep down.
This film received a 50% on the film reviewing site Rotten Tomatoes, making it a “Rotten”
film. That wasn’t exactly an earned score, but there may be a specified reason for why it got so
low. The acting/directing by Stiller was a good choice, as well as having Adam Scott play the
“bad guy”. It was very visually pleasing and beautiful looking, as it was filmed in Iceland, Los
Angeles, and New York, but what was wrong with the film: too many plotlines. Recently,
someone in filmmaking found out that having a lot of detail is good, while having little to no
detail is bad. This story + lots of detail = 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. The storyline for Gravity +
little detail = 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The point of this is that not everything needs this many
plotlines and parts to remember and go back to.
This film was also based on a short story by James Thurber. The idea is the same, but
there are drastic changes to the plot in the film adaption, mainly to make the film longer. The
short story was about an average man who has to shop for dog food, but is constantly stopping to
daydream about random circumstances.
This film earned $62,744,672 at the box office, out of a $90,000,000 budget. This
makes it a bit of a box office bomb, even though it was well advertised. The weird part about the
advertising is that the first trailer for the film gave no hint to what the movie was about. It just
looked like a guy who works for LIFE Magazine who jumps on a helicopter. And that was it for
the trailer. Many people may have stuck to their thoughts about the first trailer, making them not
want to see it, which may have been a factor to why to the box office gross was so low compared
to the budget. The advertising and trailers progressively added more to the trailers, which drew
people in more. Back to the budget/box office/Gravity comparisons, Gravity had a budget of
$100,000,000, and it gained $662,944,426 at the box office, surpassing the worldwide gross of
The Avengers from one year before. And here’s the funny part: Gravity had a smaller advertising
budget, so fewer people knew about it before its release, yet it still had a larger worldwide
gross than The Avengers, which was the highest grossing film of 2012.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a fairly good movie. The acting and sets were very
well done, but the story was a little worn and dry. Overall, it was an interesting film.
Quote by Matt Neal of The Standard.