The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has long been in development in Hollywood. Producers loved the short, short ironic novel by the New Yorker writer O. Henry about a repressed and frustrated ordinary office worker who fantasizes of greatness at the drop of a hat. Finally, with Ben Stiller in the lead, the movie got made—and was a box-office flop.

The blending of Mitty’s fantasies with reality approaches magical realism. Though movies are well equipped to handle such imagery, magical realism proves surprisingly difficult to pull off visually. I can understand how the “average moviegoer” could have been confused by this film. You have to be familiar with another magical realism film, The Strange Case of Benjamin Button (another box-office flop), in order to understand one of the (hilarious) visual gags.

In some ways, the written word handles the form better! It’s helpful to be familiar with the novel before viewing this movie.

That said, I found this updated version of the Mitty story quite enjoyable, though at times I even wondered if the entire adventure would prove to be a fantasy at the end. Fortunately, reality saves the day. Stiller is an accomplished comedic actor and pitch perfect in this role, growing the character in a satisfying way. The final punchline is well worth following all the plot gyrations. Recommended.

Saving Mr. Banks is the delightful Story Behind the Story of how Walt Disney convinced P.L. Travers, the prickly author of the Mary Poppins series, to sell her film rights.

I grew up on Mary Poppins, which was first published in the 1930s but stayed in print for decades. P.L. Travers, along with E.B. White, is one of my childhood heroes. I never knew anything about her, nor had I looked her up online. This film (and my later research) reveals that P.L. Travers was not British (she was Australian) despite that the Mary Poppins books are firmly planted in London soil, nor was she “Mrs. Travers,” as she insisted everyone call her. Her beloved alcoholic father’s first name was “Travers”, and the author never married.

The film flips back and forth between the present-day story of how the movie got made, and Travers’ troubled childhood in Australia. Emma Thompson is perfect as the stubborn, eccentric Travers. She clearly knows Mary Poppins’ territory; she wrote the screenplays for and starred in the two delightful Nanny McPhee films. It’s also helpful to be familiar with the first Mary Poppins novel before viewing this movie.

Tom Hanks captures Walt Disney’s character well. (Walt Disney is another childhood hero of mine.) The final revelation of P.L. Travers’ trouble and what Disney had in common with her is very, very satisfying. Recommended.

I love Stories Behind the Story, such as Saving Mr. Banks and Hitchcock (which I reviewed here about a month ago). I’ve got two of my own, Tomorrow’s Child, my Omni story that sold to Universal Studios, which includes a thirty-day blog about all the twists and turns the project took from inception to movie deal, and My Charlotte: Patty’s Story, about how Charlotte’s Web inspired me as a child to become a fantasy writer and influenced my development as a writer, culminating in my first published science fiction story, “Arachne,” in Omni Magazine, and then Arachne, my first novel published by William Morrow. The ebook includes the Omni story.

So there you have it, my friends. For relief from the barrage of loud, stupid summer blockbusters, you will have an entertaining experience relaxing with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Saving Mr. Banks.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

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