Walter

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Walter Movie Poster Image
Quirky, funny, and touching tale has strong language.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Trying to avoid all of the complicated and painful aspects of human life doesn't bring happiness or fulfillment; taking risks and experiencing emotions are essential.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Walter learns an important lesson, he's a bit too deluded for most of the movie to be considered a role model; he's not someone kids should emulate.

Violence

Mentions of characters dying from cancer and suicide. Description of a fictitious bus crash. Scary, shadowy figures stalking in the bushes. Reference to "cutters" (i.e. people who cut themselves to ease emotional pain). Mildly tense confrontations.

Sex

An affair is described; a man and a woman, both already married to others, fall in love. In a fantasy sequence, a young woman unbuttons her top, showing her bra. Kissing. Some innuendo.

Language

Very strong language, mostly in bursts from one character, includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls---," "dumbass," "douchebag," "ass," "bitch," "goddamn," "retarded," plus "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Walter is a quirky dramedy with some dark overtones. It centers on a character who thinks he's the son of God and that it's his job to determine whether people are going to heaven or hell. Overall, this potentially controversial topic is handled with sweetness and humor. Language is the biggest issue, with one character swearing almost constantly during his scenes, using "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. There's also some sexual innuendo and kissing, and a young woman unbuttons her top and showing her bra. A flashback story references an affair. Violent events are also alluded to, including a character dying of cancer, a suicide, and a fictitious bus crash. A ghostly character appears as a scary, shadowy figure in the bushes. The movie touches on some thought-provoking themes, not only about God and the afterlife, but also about understanding loss and taking emotional risks in life.

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What's the story?

WALTER introduces viewers to Walter (Andrew J. West), who tells us that he's the son of God ("not Jesus ... that was someone else") and that his task on Earth is to determine who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. Walter works as a ticket-taker at a movie theater, making his call for each moviegoer as they file past. But he also has Earthly concerns: He has a crush on a pretty co-worker, Kendall (Leven Rambin), and his mother (Virginia Madsen) seems to have gone off the deep end, cooking eggs day and night. Things get much worse when an unhappy ghost (Justin Kirk) turns up, demanding that Walter dispatch him to the appropriate afterlife destination. Eventually Walter discovers that there may be a connection between the ghost and his own troubled past.

Is it any good?

A feature-length adaptation of a short film (with West reprising his role as the title character), Walter is a crisp, quirky, yet sweet comedy; it's dark, even if it doesn't go totally black. For example, the concept of Walter being the son of God and choosing people's afterlife destinies isn't taken much further than a one-time joke. Yet director Anna Mastro (TV's Gossip Girl) quickly establishes the meticulousness of Walter's life, using that as a running theme throughout.

In his room, he follows a daily routine, keeping things exactly in their places. The spaces he moves through -- including the theater's huge lobby, a church, and his walk to work -- are always empty, yet full of possibility. The slow compromise of this perfect world, and Walter's increasingly messy interactions with other human beings (Madsen and William H. Macy are especially good), provide both laughs and heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Walter learns from his experiences. What has he been avoiding or hiding from? How has he dealt with loss? What does he begin to do differently? Can you think of a way that his lesson might apply to your own life?

  • Does Walter find help through talking to a therapist? Talking to other people? How? What do the other people say that helps (or doesn't help) him?

  • Why does Walter have trouble talking to the girl he likes? Why does Vince have so little trouble? What's the difference between them? Does it have anything to do with self-image?

  • If Walter believes he is the son of God, is this a religious or spiritual movie? What does the movie have to say about God or religion?

Movie details

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