Working in the film room of Life magazine, Walter Mitty receives a new film reel from his photographer friend, Sean O’Connell. Just after receiving the film, new transition specialist Ted Hendricks announces that the magazine will be transitioning out of the print business and putting out its last print issue. Walter returns to review the film reel and discovers that the slide that was meant become the final cover photo is missing. On the hunt for the slide, he eventually decides to take a leap and track down O’Connell on location to find the slide. The journey takes him across the globe and forces him to consider breaking out of his comfort zone to achieve his goal. Back at home, the delay on the cover photo and the pending final issue are putting people’s jobs in jeopardy, including his new friend, Cheryl Melhoff.
Starring: Ben Stiller (Walter Mitty), Kristen Wiig (Cheryl Melhoff), Jon Daly (Tim Naughton), Kathryn Hahn (Odessa Mitty), Shirley McLaine (Edna Mitty), Adrian Martinez (Hernando), Adam Scott (Ted Hendricks), Terence Bernie Hines (Gary Mannheim), Paul Fitzgerald (Don Proctor), Olafur Darri Olafsson (Helicopter Pilot), Kai Lennox (Phil Melhoff), Sean Penn (Sean O’Connell)
Taking the role as both protagonist and director of this film, Stiller gave a somewhat hesitant performance at the start (matching his character’s lack of adventure) but evolved into a thrill-seeking, adventurer who seemed to let life come more naturally. Wiig had that quirky and subtle charm that kept her character the love interest but also maintained the focus on Stiller. Adam Scott seems to have a natural snobbiness when given a character like this. Penn, McLaine, and Olafsson were all smart additions to this film.
Taking a new twist on the original, Stiller captured a man’s transformation from someone who waded through life to someone who lived it. Even though the takeover of the magazine was not enough to push him into action initially, the missing slide meant that his work would be questioned. Immediately he knew that he needed to take action to solve the location of the missing slide. While he may not have pushed himself to track down O’Connell in person, Cheryl may have been the extra push he needed to to jump on a plane, get on a helicopter with a drunk pilot, dive into the freezing waters, and take a boat to a town outside of an active volcano. Interestingly, there were pieces of adventure already in him. Walter knew how to ride a skateboard, which certainly came into handy, and he was adaptable when the situation called for it.
The film used a series of fantasy moments to make the story truly come alive. While the fantasies were a way to highlight his daydreaming, they actually provided a glimpse into his true desires. The takeover of the newspaper initially did not phase him because he was infatuated with Cheryl and imagined himself coming off of Mt. Everest with a romantic accent. Hendricks was not content with just taking over the magazine but had to also assert himself as a bully and pick on Walter. This let to several fantasies included fighting over a old action figure and diving out of a window while taking Hendricks with him. Eventually, life caught up to the fantasies and Walter began to live more in the moment. This got to the heart of the message of the film, which essentially highlighted that one can either dream about living or go out and live.
While the story is a little unbelievable and the character development is a little overly focused on one character, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is very entertaining and worth watching.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5