MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley
It’s a shame when a perfectly entertaining family film gets lost in the shuffle. This is certainly the case with The Walk, writer-director Robert Zemeckis’ loving tribute to wirewalker Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt) and his risky stunt of walking between the Twin Towers of New York City on August 7, 1974. The towers were in the final stages of completion when Petit and his support crew managed to make their way to the rooftop to set the stage for the death-defying act of performance art that would not only be a once in a lifetime event but serve to change the city’s opinion on the landmark structures, which for some residents at the time were considered eyesores on the city’s skyscape.
The Walk is a big film (IMAX 3D big) with a modest story. The movie simply tells the story about Petit’s love of street performing, begun at an early age, and how his growing skills in juggling, mime, unicycling, and small scale wire walking eventually led him to the circus and a desire to aim for bigger venues for his growing skills. In the process of his quest he meets and falls in love with Annie (Charlotte Le Bon), a street musician, and ingratiates himself with a reluctant wire walking tutor, Papa Rudy (Kingsley).
The movie begins with the image of Petit standing on the Statue of Liberty, ready to regale us with his story of adventure. His narration will become an integral part of the film. While not every reviewer is enamored of this story device, I found that it made this film more family-friendly (and almost Disneyesque), reminding children that Petit was going to live to tell the tale and also underlining things for younger viewers along the way as a type of security blanket, to take off the edge a bit.
And there’s quite a lot of edge to smooth over as the CGI wizards recreate in stunning fashion what it would be like to actually walk a high wire atop the tallest buildings in New York City. If you can handle 3D without migraine headaches, I strongly advise that you see The Walk on the biggest screen possible and put on those special glasses. The second hour of this film is an amusing caper story, topped by a real time reenactment of the walk, which lasted far longer than anyone imagined that it would.
The Walk is a lot of fun, which can be mostly attributed to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s total commitment to the role of Philippe Petit, a physical performance of the first order. Try to catch it while it’s still in theaters. I think that you will enjoy yourself. An added bonus: your kids will definitely give up their plans to run away to the circus.
Three halos: An entertaining story filled with creativity and joy.
Two pitchforks: Quite a lot of lying and deception in planning the key event; some swearing; mild intimations of sexual activity; implied marijuana smoking which younger children will hardly notice.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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