Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wild Review

Wild. Because, you know, when life gets you down, the most logical thing to do is to go on an 1,100 mile hike, right? No? Well, that's what Cheryl Strayed thought back in the 1990's and she didn't even have any previous hiking experience. And if you think that's a stupid idea, just keep in mind that she now has a movie made based on her life and you don't. So who has the last laugh, now? I thought so. So get started on your life so that you can write your book and perhaps we might get a movie about your life 20 years down the road. And if you're cool enough, maybe you can have someone as boss as Reese Witherspoon play you. Unless you're a guy. That would be awkward. What you could do instead is go travel in the wilderness without telling anyone where you are going, then get your arm stuck under a rock, cut it off, and in no time you can have someone as awesome as James Franco play you. Deal? Deal.

Yes, as you may have inferred from that paragraph, Wild is a movie about Cheryl Strayed, a lady who had quite the messed up life. Of course that aspect of her life wasn't what was unique enough to make a movie about. Everyone has crap going on in their life that is similar to what Cheryl experienced. What made Cheryl's story unique is that, without having had much hiking experience at all, she decided to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail, an 1,100 mile hike. Then she wrote a book about her experience that became a best-seller and is now a movie directed by Jean Marc-Vallée, the director of last year's Dallas Buyers Club, which was the winner of three Oscars. Wild is a movie that doesn't go in chronological order the whole time. We start the movie with Cheryl's hike, then we go back and dive into her personal life before the hike. Then we keep jumping back and forth between those two times and are thus presented with the hike she's going on as a metaphor for her life and that I really enjoyed. Hiking in general is a great life metaphor. I remember going on a 50-mile hike over the course of 2 1/2 days when I was younger and was one of the hardest things that I've done. But I looked back on that hike and concluded that despite the difficulty of the adventure, I could do hard things. It just required the motivation to keep moving forward one step at a time. Thus is the case with life in general. Life sucks. Crap happens. But we can get over it. We can move past it. And better yet, we can learn from it to better our lives moving forward.

That there was the exact theme of the movie and I loved that theme. This movie was all about realizing that life is difficult and in the process we will make a lot of mistakes. But as good ole Rafiki said in The Lion King, we can either run from the past, or we can learn from the past. We might not all have to go on an 1,100 mile hike to learn this, but each of us has our own individual moment or series of moments where we reflect on our life and make the decision to be something different or be something better. That's what this movie was all about. However, it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies with this. Despite this great theme that the movie taught, this movie had it's fair share of issues. The biggest one being that it dragged on quite a bit. I mean, I appreciated the message and the metaphor, but there came a time in the movie where it felt I was going on this hike with Cheryl. I didn't want to go on a hike. I wanted to sit in the soft theater seats and enjoy a movie. And while that was what physically happened to me, mentally it was quite the work out. I walked out of the movie theater quite relieved that the long hike was over. I don't know exactly how this could've been fixed. At 115 minutes, this wasn't a terribly long movie. But perhaps that was one of those instances where we only needed 90 or 100 minutes to tell our story. That might've made this a lot more enjoyable.

Overall, my recommendation for this movie is that it is a movie worth seeing. However, it definitely isn't a movie for everyone. I would say that if you saw and enjoyed last year's Dallas Buyers Club, then this is a movie you that you might consider checking out. It's not as good as that movie, but you can definitely tell that it's a similar style. It does have some very interesting themes that go with it and those themes are helped out by an incredible performance by Reese Witherspoon, who quite literally went all out in order to give the audience the best and most raw, realistic Cheryl Strayed impression that she could give. And it works. Her name is almost guaranteed at this point to come up when the Oscar nominations for best actress are revealed and I think she's a worthy candidate. However, there does come a point where I was ready for the movie to wrap up and it just kept going and thus I got really bored and tired during the last leg of the movie and that effected my thoughts of the movie quite a bit. So overall, I will give Wild a 7/10.

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