Dustin posted the first trailer for the worrisome adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty some months ago. The name “Ben Stiller” did not exactly inspire confidence in the project, and Dustin found himself wondering if the appeal of that first trailer might be nothing more than the inescapable pull of the music by Of Monsters and Men. The second trailer is out now, and I think we can say more comfortable:
It’s just the music.
Here’s the trailer, which manages to give away the entire plot of the movie in fine form, and notwithstanding what could be an epic heel turn by Adam Scott, it looks really bad.
See here’s the problem with it. It completely misses the point of the short story. Yeah, I know it seems to draw more on the film adaptation from 1947 that gets put on top 100 lists of movies, but I just don’t care for a couple of reasons. First, it’s been 66 years, stand on your own. Second, the movie missed the point too, and was lambasted by James Thurber, the story’s author. I heartily acknowledge a complete bias towards the author on matters like this.
In the story, the fantasies are not real. This movie give Mitty a real adventure to go along with his fantasy. The point of the story was that he not only made everything up, but that each scenario that plays out does so by spinning the mundane surroundings into the fantastic. He doesn’t look at a fancy picture of the Himalayas and imagine he’s there, no, Walter pulls on gloves and is transported into a hospital, pulling on surgical gloves. He leans against a wall smoking, and is transported to a firing squad, having his last smoke when lined up against the wall. The story’s magic is in the way Mitty transforms the mundane into the fantastic, not that he looks at pictures of the fantastic and pastes himself in there.
And the second part is the heartbreaking irony of the tale: even in his fantasies, Mitty always loses. That’s the real heart to this story, that the escape is not an escape at all.
But you know, staple some thoughtful music on there and it’ll probably get nominated for something.