”I don’t know,” he said, “I just hate my job.”
“But you worked so hard just to get the management position,” I replied.
I heard him sigh through the phone.
“Yeah, I know but it still isn’t what I want.”
“Well, that sucks, dude. I guess you should just quit.”
“I can’t quit! Mom and Dad would flip, I have to have some sort of income!”
“Then have fun climbing up a ladder you don’t even want to be on,” I said, agitated. “It’ll take you twice as long to climb all the way back down.”
“I don’t have another option,” he said.
“Life isn’t that romantic, Liz, you can’t just do stuff like that and expect everything to work out fine and dandy, this isn’t a Pixar movie. I know you don’t know this yet but spoiler alert: real life sucks.”
I have this conversation with my brother on a weekly basis. We fantasize about selling everything we own (which isn’t much), buying a plane ticket, then moving to New Zealand. Frankly, I’ve almost convinced him to do it a few times, and each time my parents simultaneously have heart palpitations.
My brother has severe ADD and dyslexia—just like me—only his ADD is so bad that he can only process four or five words at a time. Frustrating. He would space out for so long that teachers thought he was mentally challenged and convinced him of this for years and it’s taken years for me to unconvince him. Over and over I have to remind him, “You’re not retarded, you just have ADD.”
When I saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I was reminded of this. Ben Stiller is the star and main character (oh, and director), Walter Mitty. Which is convenient, since I’m pretty sure he came out of the womb looking forty years old and monstrously confused, so there was little “acting” needed out of him. (Until nearly the end of the movie when suddenly he looked, like, twenty four with hair better than Andrew Garfield and walked with a hipster swag that was actually hipster, not a “hipster” trying to be a hipster.)
The movie premiered in 2013, which just fits. 2013 was a good year. It brought in 188 million in the box office and received a whopping rating of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means nothing since Rotten Tomatoes the worst pizza burn on the roof of the world’s mouth ((don’t)see: Secret Life of Pets).
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is actually a pretty ambitious film that asks a lot of its actors, but it’s something that Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig pull off. Mainly, because I think they didn’t try too hard. I sort of wish Steven Conrad had taken a page out of their book and learned not to try so hard, on the other hand, but I have seen far worse out of a script. Not even Merida can hit every target, right?
The thing that really stuck with me though, and the thing that I hope my brother realizes after watching this movie, was the fact that it wasn’t what it lead you to think it would be. Like that guy you hated in junior high because he played basketball and thought was better than everybody but then you found out he owned every Bob Ross VHS tape and you fell in love with him. I saw the trailer for TSLoWM and said, “Pegged.” Guy hates job, all the colors are (beautifully) monochromatic and grey, guy daydreams, guy quits job, guy chases dreams, guy becomes cool, guy gets girl, ta-freakin-da the end. But, I humbly admit I was so wrong. In fact, the film pokes fun at these tropes numerous times. Instead, I walked away from that movie thinking that I should work harder at things even if they reap me no benefit because that’s my job, and that’s what I do and I should do it well. *Cancels flight Air New Zealand.*
However, I will be researching to see if the airfare to Iceland is any cheaper, because the landscape is beautiful and I didn’t realize how much so until now. I’ve always had a crush on Iceland but now it’s straight up stalking to the point of figuring out what its favorite coffee is and saving pieces of lint from its jeans for the shrine I’m building in my room. And when I get there, I will be listening to Of Monsters and Men (who are conveniently Icelandic), just like in the movie. Of Monsters & Men is always has a good mountainy, earthy feel (probably because they are one with Mother Nature and have cathartic mountain experiences every morning before breakfast). This works extremely well because up until the use of OM&M, I really didn’t notice the soundtrack. But once it was brought in at the same time the color, beauty, and story of the entire film was too.
The point being: I was pleasantly surprised and inspired after watching what I thought I knew and didn’t want to waste my time with, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Perhaps my brother and I both will come to realize that climbing up a ladder we don’t want to be on might actually lead us to something interesting at the top.