Not all movies make me cry. I’m not necessarily a major weeper, but if a movie or a TV show strikes just the right chord, then my tears are a melody of all my feels.
That being said, there are some movies that make me cry more than most – and make me cry every time I watch them. This is one of those movies. (Beware: there are obviously spoilers.)
If you’ve never seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, you should probably stop whatever you’re doing, open a new tab, find Netflix and watch it.
You know when you have to answer questions like “What’s your favourite colour? What’s your favourite ice cream flavour? What’s your favourite movie?” I never know what to answer. All of those things are dependent on what kind of mood I’m in at that moment. But there are certainly top colours, ice cream flavours and movies.
And, though this is fairly recent (it came out in 2013), I’d have to say that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a top favourite.
It’s just everything a movie should be.
It’s exciting, adventurous, emotional and lovely. I get stressed. I get happy. I get angry. It still intrigues me even though I’ve seen it half a dozen times already. And the best part is it’s not trying too hard. It’s not trying to be all of those things. Director and star Ben Stiller somehow makes it seem effortless as it picks you up and takes you along for the ride.
As Walter Mitty goes from his seemingly dull and mundane life into a life of someone who looks like “Indiana Jones became the lead singer of The Strokes” (or so says Todd from eHarmony aka Patton Oswalt), the moments of almost-tears add up and then culminate in the last scene.
I first start to get that full feeling in my chest and tears in my eyes when Walter decides to leave the offices of Life magazine and fly to Greenland to find the missing negative and cover photo of the final print issue. You already feel for him at this point and you really want him to have a win, so when he steps through the airport doors and the Life motto starts showing up, you can’t help but be affected.
Then, thanks to the fantastic soundtrack, Walter is biking through Iceland to the sound of Of Monsters and Men’s “Dirty Paws,” and the tears threaten again.
And then he leaves a Papa John’s in Iceland to talk to Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig), and you hear about his dad’s untimely death. And what that meant for Walter.
Then the story continues and Walter returns from running into photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), never having found the missing negative, and never knowing what it was because he accidentally threw it out. And he and his mom and sister sell his mom’s piano that his dad bought for her. And his mom hugs him. And his sister hugs him. And then all break apart with red-rimmed eyes.
But all of those moments are just threatened tears. You know, when you feel your eyeballs get kinda warm and you know that, if something else emotional were to happen, the tears would gracefully spill over in a non-ugly crying way.
The ending, though, causes ugly crying.
I don’t know what it is about that ending, when Walter and Cheryl walk past a newsstand and look to see what the final photo is – what the quintessence of life is.
And it’s Walter. Ordinary Walter. Doing his job. Sitting in front of the Life offices. And it’s beautiful. A snow leopard. A ghost cat.
Because “beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”