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'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' inspires

12/31/2013

Appropriately, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" doesn't lend itself to mediocrity. There is a strong polarization among critics -- approximately half despise the film, and the other half found it enjoyable. I'm one of the latter. Furthermore, it's not hard to imagine audiences being divided into two groups based upon how they would describe a glass that contains contents equal to 50 percent of its capacity.

Historically, I haven't been a fan of Ben Stiller and was apprehensive about a film that was both directed and acted by Stiller. I'm happy to report I was pleasantly and warmly surprised. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a healthy helping of Christmas cheer without the Christmas season(ing).

There's plenty to like here: fantastic visuals, strong writing, enjoyable characters and a feel-good plot with a meaningful message. There's heavy-handedness to be sure, but it's difficult to criticize. The film strikes a good mixture of simple comedy and a core message widely applicable and easy-to-digest.

The passion for this project always is visible beneath the surface. Many critics have panned "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" for its, admittedly blatant, product placement and commercialization. An easy way to be bothered by product placements is to look for them. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm happy to acknowledge Coca-Cola exists and even fictional characters enjoy a beverage.

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a great film to help ring in the new year. 2013 certainly has not been without challenges. Movie-goers certainly could do worse than starting 2014 with a lighthearted romp around the world bookended by a wonderful message about living simply and intentionally.

* 5 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation.

james.gerstner@gmail.com