The short and spoiler free version:
Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Genre: Heartwarmer/character journey
Best audience: Family/People after a heartwarming easy-watch
Avoid if: Extreme hater of predictability/Being told to embrace new experiences is a personal annoyance
Overall: Not mind blowing but you won’t regret it. Good fun and leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling.
Plot summary: ‘A day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.’ -IMDB
The slightly longer version (minor spoilers):
Here we have a sweet, very mundane and down to earth character who is very easy to empathise with, yet still unique. The start, perfectly executed in near silence, establishes Walter as a quiet, hardworking man struggling to make a connection. His job, handling photo negatives for Life magazine, is a bit of a dead end and threatened by new management laying people off in the run up to Life’s final issue.
A charming distinguishing feature of the film is the intrusion of his daydream sequences – amusing, imaginative, and very dramatic. It provokes the viewer to will him out of his shell, which of course is the entire point. The cinematography employed gives the illusion that there is more plot than actually exists at the beginning. This is an obvious contrast to his mundane everyday life, and failed attempts to muster the courage to ask out his coworker Cheryl. However, thankfully, I found he wasn’t as crushingly awkward to watch as some characters I have seen suffering this predicament. This spared me the second hand embarrassment and the marginal annoyance. (Sometimes with those characters you just want to put them in a velcro suit and fling them at their intended other/a wall with a disgruntled sigh.)
Neat touches: The repeated phonecalls from his internet dating website (who conveniently always happens to be the same guy. And seriously, they phone people to tell them to update their profiles? I don’t buy it.) But it’s sweet, and funny. Also the skateboarding – it’s true, people will often surprise you with an odd skill or two. Also they didn’t overdo the backstory for him – it simply was, and I liked that. And of course the photo. The photo negative which he loses and searches for his friend photographer over several countries for, the one that starts his journey in the first place…it is not disappointing, and looks perfectly in style on the cover. It’s a neat ending.
The plot, over all, hangs on the light humour, journey and character development of Walter – and I think overall it worked, even if it used several familiar tricks to do so. I liked Walter, and I liked the film’s spin on things.
Side note: The failed ‘wink’ on the dating site at the start…it makes me think of those people who can’t wink in real life, and end up pulling a funny expression as they blink slightly out of sync. Adorable. Perhaps in the film, actually, it’s just a metaphor for Walter’s inability to flirt…or more likely just a little joke to everyone who’s had a computer with a sense of irony.