Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Must-see movie

Wick's World

 


There is a very special reason you need to go to the Lake Theater in Moose Lake this weekend. The movie showing is called “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon who has been nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. Witherspoon bought the movie rights to the book “Wild” soon after she read it, which is part tragedy, part comedic memoir of the writer named Cheryl Strayed.

Although Cheryl changed her name many years ago, she has been widely recognized as the pretty blonde cheerleader and homecoming queen from McGregor.

Cheryl spent most of her formative years living in the woods just a short 15 minutes from Moose Lake. During those years, we were one of her closest neighbors. As a teenager, Cheryl would often babysit our kids along with other children in the community.

From the first day we met Cheryl and in the following months, we got to know her quite well, and my wife and I both recognized she was one of those rare humans who would someday do something big — and something really big is what she did. Cheryl wrote a memoir that has sold millions of copies worldwide and has been printed in dozens of languages. The book became a best seller and was listed on the New York Times as No. 1 for many months. Ironically, an advice column she wrote anonymously came out in paperback form and also made the New York Times top 10 best seller list. So Cheryl Strayed, the pert young cheerleader from McGregor, made history. No writer ever had two best sellers simultaneously on the list.

Without revealing a whole lot about the movie, I will tell some history leading up to and including the span of several years when Cheryl went into a deep, dark depression. Her mother, still in her 40s, went to the doctor one day and shockingly was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her doctor gave her a year to live — 49 days later she died. In a mere seven weeks, the fun-loving, hard-working happy family that Cheryl so deeply loved was shattered.

Cheryl was a college student living in Minneapolis when all this happened and the happy life she had been living was so affected that she spiraled rapidly down a rabbit hole of despair and destruction. Using infidelity as a tool to ease the pain from her mother’s death, her marriage ended when she admitted to her husband that she had been unfaithful. She basically hit rock bottom when she ran off to the West Coast and moved in with a heroin addict. You probably know the next scene without me writing it; she began using heroin also.

Eventually she was rescued, brought back to the Twin Cities and returned to waitressing. One day, along came one of those famous Minnesota snowstorms and Cheryl had no shovel. While waiting in line at the store, she picked up a book about hiking The Pacific Crest Trail, which follows the mountain range from Mexico to Canada. The book and movie is essentially the story of her thousand-mile hike where she found her real self.

When “Wild” hit the bookstores, it became a hit beyond her wildest dreams. Oprah Winfrey read the book and immediately re-started a second version of Oprah’s Book Club. The movie has been released to the public at the box office just a few weeks and already Reese Witherspoon is one of five candidates nominated for best actress. Reese did a great job of playing the role of the Cheryl I know quite well.

Today Cheryl is living the dream and Oprah and Reese are two of her best friends. Because of Cheryl’s unique personality, it is easy for me to see how this happened. When I talk with her either on the phone or when she is in town, she is still that same sweet, beautiful, charming young girl cheering on the McGregor football team.

The movie is playing at Lake Theater in Moose Lake from February 13-16. On Valentine’s Day, February 14, you can bring your sweetheart for free.

 

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