Why I Love “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”

The holiday movie crush can be tough.  There are all sorts of movies throwing themselves out there for Oscar consideration, and the biggest stars release their best work so you – and the Academy Awards – will notice them.

As a result of the stiff competition, you may have overlooked the underdog of the holiday season – the movie that didn’t have Disney punch behind it or an Oscar winning/contender face starring in it.  But after seeing some of the best of the best this holiday season, the one that will stay with me, making it onto my top 10 movie list – Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

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The thing that I love about this movie is that from start to finish, it’s about personal connections.  Real people meeting real people, changing their lives, influencing the way they live.  It’s ironic, really, because the movie starts with Walter trying to use eHarmony to wink at a woman who works in his office – a woman he could walk up to, wink at personally, strike up a conversation.

The movie is about living in the real world, having real life experiences, being present and making the most of the life you have, instead of living in the what if world of fantasy.  Again, this is ironic, since Walter spends the first half of the movie living in his head.  In scene after scene, he daydreams himself into a world he wishes he could live in, ignoring opportunities to make life in the present more appealing.

Ben Stiller in a still from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller is perfect in the role of Walter Mitty.  There are no stupid faces like the ones you’d see in “Zoolander”, or bad puns and off color remarks as you would see in “Dodgeball”.  This is Stiller at his best.  He is vulnerable, determined, normal almost to the point of quirky.  The dream sequences give you a glimpse of the Stiller you either love or hate, but the rest of the movie, he’s just your average Joe, trying to find and make personal connections in this internet world.  He’s all about living in the moment, once he realizes the real moments are the ones that are so much more important.

I love this movie.  I’ve seen it twice, and have come out both times humming and feeling happy.  With a free two hours, especially on a gloomy day, I’d go see it again.

 

Disney Pixar’s BRAVE Celtic Princess

 

Disney PIXAR’s Brave is nothing like any other Disney Princess film. It’s better. Following along with Tangled and Princess and the Frog, Brave exhibits a princess with a head on her shoulders and her own dreams outside of getting married to a prince and living happily ever after. This is without a doubt the most relatable of the Disney Princess films – any mother/daughter pair that ever lived through high school years, college years, or those hormonal Tuesdays that come up every once in a while will definitely cry. The Queen, Elinor, wants her daughter, Merida, to learn to be the perfect princess so she can grow up to be the perfect queen, which of course includes marriage to one of the eldest sons of the Clans. Merida much prefers taking a slower, more natural approach to marriage and certainly has no interest in being a stereotypical princess. Obviously that doesn’t go well, Disney magic ensues, and Merida unintentionally places a beastly curse on the Queen in an attempt to change her mind, thus changing Merida’s fate. Merida and her mother must work together to mend the bond they broke out of stubbornness, pride, and anger. The damsel in distress this time is actually the Queen, and it is her daughter’s no-so-princess-like talents that keep them going.  On a more personal note, I really loved that Disney took a go at a Celtic princess for this movie. I think it plays extremely well into the attitudes of the characters and the dynamic of the family (which all reminded me very much of my own). I enjoyed every minute, spent a lot of them laughing, but I also definitely cried a good amount. The story of this princess really affected me in a way others just fell a little short, which is a huge part of what makes this such a new and exciting Disney Princess experience.

PS – look for a Hidden Mickey near the mischievous princes early on!

B L Skamarakas
Rutgers School of Business-Camden
A politician is someone who will tell you anything you want to hear to get your vote. A leader will tell you what is best for the country, even if it hurts your feelings.

Fabulous Film Friday!

It’s that time of year – summer flicks are gearing up to come out, and that means we’re going to have to decide what movies to line up for. I might need to order some Garrett’s Popcorn to help make the wait a little more bearable.

I know what you’re thinking.  But, it’s not Friday.  And it may not even be Fabulous.

I couldn’t wait.  It was too exciting!

So, keep up!  I’ve got a lot to cover in the next few posts – including an AWESOME giveaway to get yourself all Avengers-ed up!

Hop – A Sarcastic Mom’s Movie Review

Growing up during the dawn of time, as I did, I recall how incredibly excited I used to get over holiday specials.  Christmas, of course, was the bonanza season of holiday specials, but Easter had a couple.  We’d sit, with my Dad, and get all into Peter Cottontail; but of course, the all time favorite Easter special was the religiously significant “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!”

Yeah, Easter movies and television geared towards children are about as religious in nature as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.  It’s always been that way.  Kids don’t really want to sit for an hour or more and watch the crucifixion of a significant historical figure over differences in religion and a struggle for power.  I may be wrong, but it just doesn’t scream “warm and fuzzy” – like an Easter bunny.  And besides, doesn’t Veggie Tales cover that somewhere?

So that was kind of a long way to tell you that I was not disappointed that Hop wasn’t loaded with religious significance.  I didn’t expect it to have any, unlike some other reviews I’ve seen.  But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bit disappointing.

Here’s the story – the Easter Bunny is getting on in years, and he’d like to pass the responsibility of world (well, except for China) sugar high induction on to his come of age son EB.  EB, however, has decided that he is destined more for a life of rock stardom, and he sets off to realize his dreams where young, rebellious, determined to make their own way in the world rabbits all go – Ireland – Hollywood.

Coincidentally, a young man(Fred) living in the neighborhood already finds himself the victim of an Intervention, as his family makes the determination that he is not rebellious or determined enough, and they want his arse out the door, on his own, and not mooching off of Daddy’s dime.  This poor, now homeless young man is forced to stay in a multi-bazillion dollar mansion as a house sitter for his sister’s boss.  Yeah, he learned his lesson.

The two wayward young adults meet each other accidentally, and hilarity ensues.  Well, okay, it doesn’t; but there is some humor – twice, I heard a line uttered by the amazingly talented Russell Brand that made me laugh out loud (I think his comedic timing is impeccable).

My girls loved the movie, but it fell a bit flat for me.  It seemed a little bit rushed to come to the conclusion, and in the end, I’m not sure real dreams were fulfilled – except for Fred’s father, and honestly, for a man who wanted his son to find “steady” employment, I’m not sure how he ends up so freakin’ deliriously happy about Fred’s new very part time gig.

I don’t think the characters were very well developed, and the sub-plot of the evil villain Carlos (who obviously  has not seen the You Tube videos of what happens to Peeps put in the Microwave – that might have helped keep him in his place) wasn’t very well thought out at all.  There was no real affection for Fred or EB, so honestly, if they had both ended up homeless on Hollywood Boulevard, selling fake Godiva chocolate bunnies, I’m not sure the end of the movie emotions would have been any different.  Instead of a weepy, happy, awwwww feeling, it was more of a “so that’s what happens to them – let’s go get sushi.”

I will say though that Russell Brand is the highlight – his lines are hysterical in a couple of spots, funny in others, and the big bonus here is that as much as I love Russell Brand, he’s damn scary to look at.  I’m glad I got the opportunity to enjoy his movie without actually having to watch him.  I won’t be so lucky when I go next week to see “Arthur”.

For kids – I’d give the movie a thumbs up.  Seriously, who’s making Easter specials anymore?

For grown-ups – Don’t expect the big laughs you found in Despicable Me.  If you didn’t have to take the kids, I’d tell you to go see something else, but what the hell – it’s Easter time, the kids will be excited to see the movie, you’ll be the hero Dad or Mom for taking them, and if you’re lucky, they’ll leave you alone the whole rest of the evening so you can tend to your virtual farm in Farmville as a reward.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Do Pandas have eyelids?

Can you win a Kung Fu staring contest against Kung Fu panda Jet Black?

The release date is May 26, 2011, and the girls are so excited!  We really enjoyed this movie, and can’t wait to see how round 2 plays out!