Sam Strange Remembers: THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY

Anyone who's not a pussy needs to hit Iceland ASAP.

When you're a kid, you think you're going to grow up and be this great person. Instead, you end up mediocre, or maybe even a total waste. But sometimes it's still fun to revisit those foolish childhood fantasies as a kind of coping mechanism. So I give you The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a fantasy that will ameliorate the crappiness of your life by showing you a guy who uses fantasy to ameliorate the crappiness of his.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty stars Adam Sandler as Walter Mitty. Some people are shy and meek, but Walter is shy and weak to such an extent that it all but wipes out his ability to function. He lacks even the most modest manifestations of personality, emotion, and spirit. He can barely speak.

Walter did not start out this way. As a youngster, he had a mohawk and showed real promise as an amateur skateboarder. The whole world laid ahead of him, and it was his to seize. But then one day, as happens with so many young men, he got a job at Papa Johns where he was sexually assaulted repeatedly until there was nothing young and pure left to rape.

As a grown up, Walter has no way to confront the pain and misery of adult life, so he frequently dozes off into fantasies where he's a heroic manly man who can. For instance, sometimes he's Indiana Jones. Other times he's John Rambo. One time he got to be Weird Al Yankovic doing a parody of Indiana Jones and John Rambo all in the same fantasy.

These aren't just harmless flights of fancy. Walter actually goes into a standing coma during these episodes. You can totally draw a Nike Swoosh on his North Face jacket with Reddi-wip Whip Cream and he won't even know it. If he were to start thinking about being Aquaman while walking toward the ocean, he'd just mosey on in there and drown. For this reason, Walter wears a device that sends electric shocks through his body in five-minute intervals. It runs on Duracell Batteries, probably the best goddamn batteries on the market.

When the film begins, these fantasies are coming with far greater frequency than normal. There are two reasons for this. One is Harmony, the pretty girl Walter likes at work. Since Walter hears that E-dating is popular, and the girl he wants to date is named Harmony, he tries to hook up with her on a website called eHarmony. Unfortunately, Walter's life has been far too boring to properly fill out an attractive eHarmony profile, leaving him with a page that looks sort of like when your Grandma discovers Facebook. Double-unfortunately, the tech guy he calls for help doesn't have the guts to tell him what a wide variety of kinky sexual experiences await him if he merely put "Raped by Papa John" on his life experience list. Girls named Harmony can't get enough of that stuff.

Then there's reason number two: Walter is about to get fired from his job at Life Magazine. The sleazy corporate guy who plans on doing this firing also makes it a point to bully Walter endlessly simply because he catches onto Walter's massive inability to stand up for himself. So whenever Walter's not fantasizing about winning Harmony's heart via superhuman romantic gestures, he's knee-deep in daydreams where he puts his foot knee-deep in this guy's ass and rips it out sideways.

Life Magazine has been Walter's employer for almost two decades, a job he got by paying dues at both The Boisterous Living Journal and Carpe Diem Quarterly. He works as the guy who looks at photo negatives from famous photographers before letting other, more important people look at the them. Basically, he gets rid of accidental pee-pee shots or pictures of animals doing it and stuff like that.

In his sixteen years at Life Magazine, Walter has developed a nice professional relationship with famed photographer Shawn Pen. The two have never met, nor have they spoken to each other in any personal capacity. But when Shawn realizes he'll be sending Walter Life Magazine's last cover ever, he also sends a leather wallet branded with fortune cookie aphorisms as a gift.

Of Shawn's last film roll, the absolute best shot is supposed to be "Photo 25." But there is no Photo 25. Walter gets all the other photos, but the only one anyone wants is missing. This is a pretty big deal because the soulless guy in charge of killing Life Magazine is desperate to give its last issue the best cover ever.

Walter desperately needs to contact Shawn, but he's a heroic manly man and lacks both a phone and an address. Digging further into Shawn's last roll of film, however, Walter discovers a clue indicating Shawn sent the photos from Greenland. If he were to jump on a plane, maybe he could track Shawn down and get the photo himself. Just as Walter's about to chicken-out, a photo of Shawn beckons him to join the adventure that is known as Life. But even that isn't enough, so a fantasy of Harmony shows up and sings a cover of "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car." It doesn't exactly work logic-wise since she's the one in the dream, but it gets the point across all the same.

In Greenland, Walter finds that Shawn is on a ship he can only get to via a helicopter piloted by an extremely inebriated fat guy. Just as Walter's about to chicken-out, Harmony shows up and sings a cover of "Space Odyssey." The helicopter takes him to the boat, but he must jump out of it into the ocean where he fights off a shark named Doby.

Eventually he gets on the boat only to learn that he missed Shawn by three hours. He apparently went off to Iceland to photograph an erupting volcano. Walter has no choice but to wait until the vessel docks in Iceland the next morning. In the meantime, he is surprised to find an abundance of his mother's cake in the fridge and some of his old childhood drawings of Wolverine. The cot the sailors offer him is covered with scorpions and dirty needles. Just as Walter's about to chicken-out, Harmony shows up and sings a cover of "Hotel California."

In Iceland, Walter rides a bike. Then the bike breaks. So he runs. Then he skateboards, using makeshift Wolverine claws to help steer. Before long he's at the erupting volcano. But it's an erupting volcano. So he immediately has to run, bike, and skateboard away. After that, his Shawn Pen trail grows cold.

Dejected but hungry, Walter mopes around Iceland trying to find something to eat. Unfortunately, the only restaurant around is Papa Johns. Normally this would send Walter into a pathological frenzy, but his journey across the world has affected him in surprisingly healthy ways, and, much to his surprise, he finds that he has matured and healed enough that he can finally join the human race in enjoying some of the best damn pizza on God's green Earth. This is such a win that Walter doesn't even mind going home without achieving his primary goal in any way, shape, or form.

But as soon as he gets home things get strange. Obviously, he loses his job, but that's not all. For one, Harmony appears to be a lot less single than he initially assumed. And even weirder, Walter discovers that his mother is on first name basis with Shawn Pen and knows everything about him, including his underwear size and current whereabouts: Serious Banana and Afghanistan, respectively.

So Walter goes to Afghanistan, where he survives frequent beheadings by pre-paying his ransoms with his mother's awesome cake. After years of toil and frequent mountain climbing, Walter finally comes across Shawn Pen just as he's about to photograph a Ghost Cat so he can capture its essence and turn it into cologne.

Once the two men meet, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty gets even more bizarre. It turns out that living the life of a heroic manly man is no easy task. To help deal with the constant upheaval and weariness of life on the road, Shawn Pen has been fantasizing about being a hapless mopey guy, just barely existing through life. It all started one day while he was eating at Papa Johns. But even a heroic manly man's fantasies have that adventurer spirit, and Walter Mitty inevitably grew awesome, thus ruining his function. So there on that mountain, Walter gets fired again. But as a consolation for being such a ballsy wimp fantasy, Shawn Pen promises to keep thinking of Walter rather than erase him from existence all together.

Walter considers this a real win and celebrates by eating one of those KFC Famous Bowls with Patton Oswalt. It tastes pretty good.

(three stars)

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