Astrology: Film: Review: ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (2013)

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

For many people, daydreams are the most grandiose source of faux reality they’ll ever experience. In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring and directed by Ben Stiller, Walter has garnered considerable expertise in the art of Neptunian, zoned-out escapism which allows him to live an imagined life of derring-do in a universe of his own making. The adage go big or go home applies here. Our Walter (Stiller) is a master of conceiving whopper fantasies and, ultimately, he’ll indeed have to leave home – in the physical sense – to effect the biggest real-life-fantasy dream of his life.

Walter works in the photography department at Life magazine which has decided to go digital-only and is now planning its final print issue. For this last cover, Life plans to feature a single photograph by iconic, elusive, and downright mysterious photo-journalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn). However, the negative for that prized image is nowhere to be found, which fuels the ire of hotshot manager (Adam Scott) who’s been brought in to oversee the transition. This specific employment-related bridge – the leap from one format to another – is a nice nod to Walter’s endless back-and-forth maneuvering from his Saturnine life of responsible drudgery to his imaginings into which he’d clearly like to add work colleague Cheryl (Kristen Wiig).

Walter has proverbially saved the day thousands of times in his dream world, whose self-generated scenarios he can control. However, it soon becomes clear that Walter is the only person who has a chance of locating Sean to find out where that negative is, so that the magazine can meet its deadline. Suddenly, the stakes become astronomically higher as the terrified Walter attempts to get out of his local comfort zone to venture into parts of planet Earth – Greenland, Iceland, the Himalayas – he’s never set foot on.

With a push from Jupiter, whose expansiveness over water, land and mountains becomes an educational and philosophical planetary mentor, Walter is on the move and gloriously embraces the fate he’s willing chosen. The twist here is that his real-life escapades rival anything we’ve seen as part of his fantasy digressions. And, through his newly found exhilaration, Walter manages to preserve his inherent goodness and modesty. He simply becomes more of the person he never knew he was (except, perhaps, to his supportive mother, played by Shirley MacLaine).

Although daydreaming and affirmations don’t necessarily alter one’s kismet, viewers living vicariously through Walter’s makeover, which starts with nothing more than his stepping into a helicopter, can expect a feel-good, inspirational, and cinematically gorgeous wake-up jolt.

Astrology Film Rating:  ♃♆ (Jupiter, Neptune)

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