The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

I’ve been waiting to see this movie ever since I saw the trailer many months back. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is a 2013 American adventure comedy directed by Ben Stiller who also co-produced the movie he stars in as the title character. Gore Verbinski executive produced the film which also c0-stars Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Adrian Martinez & Patton Oswalt. This is the second film adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name. The 1947 version was produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by Norman Z. McLeod, with Danny Kaye playing the role of Walter Mitty.

Walter Mitty is a negative assets manager at Life magazine, where he has worked for 16 years. He frequently zones out as he day dreams a lot about fantastic adventures but lives a very safe & predictable life, where is even hesitant to give a ‘wink’ on Cheryl’s, his coworker on whom he has a crush,¬† eHarmony page. On one morning the magazine announces that it’s going completely online and hence downsizing is in order. Photojournalist Sean O’Connell, who works closely with Walter but has never met him, sends him a role of negatives of his latest work and a wallet as a gift for his excellent work. The new transition manager, the obnoxious Ted Hendricks, is also sent a message by O’Connell,¬† that the 25th photo is the perfect one for the final magazine cover as it captures the “quintessence” of Life and will be perfect before the change to online status. However Walter cannot find negative 25 and stalls for time as he heads to Greenland to track down Sean, aided by clues in his other photos which Cheryl helps him out with as the two finally talk.

In Greenland he finds out from a bartender that Sean has already left on a boat and hence Walter must hitch a ride on a helicopter piloted by a drunk man who loves karoke. He is inspired by a vision he has of Cheryl singing an acoustic version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity and he jumps into the helicopter as it takes off. Walter has to jump into shark infested waters to get to the boat but finds out that Sean is no longer aboard it. From a cake, a favourite recipe of Walter’s mother, that Sean has offered to the ship’s crew, he finds more clues on the wrapping paper that leads him to Iceland, where Sean has gone to photograph the volcano Eyjafjallaj√∂kull. Walter has more adventures trading a skateboard from some kids and skating through the roads and escapes the exploding volcano’s smokes with help from a man he meets and who drives him to a pizza place. Walter is forced to break off the search after receiving a text message calling him back to New York immediately. Having failed to get the photo for the cover in time, Walter is fired and is also dismayed to find out that Cheryl was also let go a few days earlier. He goes to her house to see her but on seeing her ex-husband there, he leaves the skateboard as a present to her son Rich and leaves without speaking to her.

Walter goes home dejected and throws the wallet into the bin but is surprised to find that Sean had visited his mother earlier. Apparently his mom had told him about it while there were in a supermarket but he had zoned out at the time. Walter decide to go find Sean and treks to the Himalayas where Sean is photographing snow leopards.¬† To Walter’s astonishment, Sean had tucked negative 25 into the wallet, leaving a clue for him in a message he left along with the package. The two of them play football with the natives before Walter leaves back for home. He is arrested at LAX by security and has to call¬† the only person he knows in the city to vouch for him : Todd who was the eHarmony rep who talked to Walter when he was having issues setting up his profile and who kept calling him for updates to add to the page. Dismayed that he had dumped the wallet, he helps his mother sell her piano but is pleasantly surprised when she gives him the wallet she found in the bin. Without looking at the picture, an emboldened Mitty delivers it to Life magazine, tells management that it was the photograph Sean O’Connell wanted for the final issue, and berates Hendricks for disrespecting the staff that made the magazine so honored.

As the movie winds down, Walter applies for new jobs and watches a video that Cheryl & Rich had sent him. He meets her when they are both at the office to collect their severance packages and and learns that Cheryl’s ex-husband was only at her house in order to repair the refrigerator. As they walk in the streets they find the cover of the last magazine in a nearby stand – the final cover photograph shows Walter sitting outside the Life building, holding a sheet of negatives up to the light and examining them with an eyepiece. Walter holds Cheryl’s hand and they both walk along the street.

Sweet and funny at times but the movie also loses my interest in a few places.Overall I think I liked it quite a bit and will give the film a 7.5 outta 10! It’s just missing some really good scenes which could have made the movie a classic.

Star Trek’s Prime Directive

Symbiosis is a really good example of the Prime Directive and non-interference despite wanting to do something. The USS Enterprise D receives a distress signal from a freighter and offering their assistance, captain Picard has the freighter crew beamed up but he and his officers are surprised to see that the cargo was beamed up first instead. Four of the 6 occupants of the freighter are beamed up just in time before their ship explodes. While our crew is stunned – had they beamed themselves aboard first all 6 occupants would have survived – the guests argue amongst themselves as to who is the rightful owner of the cargo. There are two members each of Brekkians & Ornarans – different races on neighbouring planets. The cargo is ‘felicium’ a medicine which the Ornarans need to cure a plague which has affected everyone on their planet. However the materials needed for the medicine is available only on the Brekkians’ home world and thus the Ornarans are dependent on their neighbours for the medicine. In turn the Brekkians devote themselves to making the drug and their whole society is dependent on it; all their needs are met by the Ornarans in return for regular supply of the drug.

The Brekkians & Ornarans on board the Enterprise fight for possession of the felicium; the Ornarans claim that they have paid for the cargo, therefore it belongs to them. The Brekkians argue that since the payment was lost on the destroyed freighter, the cargo still belongs to them. Dr. Beverley Crusher cannot find signs of the infection on the Ornarans but since they are clearly suffering Picard asks the Brekkians to provide atleast two doses for the immediate requirement of the two Ornarans onboard. Seeing their reaction to the felicium being injected into them, Dr. Crusher correctly concludes that the drug is actually a narcotic and the two Ornarans, like their entire species, are addicted to it! Data and Riker research the history of the drug. Though it had cured a plague on Ornara two hundred years before, it is now just being sold as an addictive narcotic. The Brekkians won’t give the rest of the felicium to the the Ornarans without pay but change their minds after a signal from Ornara demanding that the felicium be sent to the planet immediately. The two Brekkians decide to “give” the drug to the Onarans, rather than risk the Onarans losing their addiction. Picard realizes that they have been purposely exploiting the Ornarans. Picard cannot tell the Ornarans without violating the Prime Directive.

To correct the situation, while letting the Onarans have the shipment of felicium the Brekkians had already promised to give, Picard refuses to repair the Ornarans’ freighters, citing the Prime Directive of non-interference for both decisions. Without a method of transport, the Ornarans will begin to withdraw from the drug. This is the only thing he can do without violating the rules of the Prime Directive; the Federation & humans have found that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous. So no matter how he feels, it was the only thing he could do.

That was just awesome.