“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, based on the short story by James Thurber is directed by Ben Stiller, written by Steve Conrad, and starring Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, and Sean Penn, tells the story of a man who’s taken to frequent daydreams as a way to enrich his rather bland life. When his – and his co-worker’s – job at Life magazine are in danger as a result of a mishap, he decides to be daring. So, he begins an impulsive global journey which ends up being more vibrant than anything he’s imagined.
The film starts off with a pretty quiet scene which in itself is indicative of Walter’s rather timid life. It’s endearing that adventurous for him is sending a virtual wink to a co-worker he likes because he’s so shy. But we get to know him as the kind, hard-working guy who loses himself in his imagination quite often.
“People who daydream too much, they’re not content.”
One of my favourite aspects of this film is Walter’s frequent daydreams. They’re so vivid yet so funny. Also, I adore the references and parodies of other films like “Harry Potter” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. Obviously, these imaginings are over-the-top but they depict the human tendency to imagine fantastic Hollywood-esque scenarios. The amazing part of these scenes is that when Walter actually does have real adventures, they’re much more interesting than what he imagines. As he continuously experiences things he’s literally only dreamed of, his daydreams become more sparse. So, we definitely get to see Walter grow as he starts living the life he wants. Also, the transition from reality to daydream and back is purely beautiful editing as is the quality of the CGI.
When a negative is missing from a roll of film he received in his office, Walter takes the opportunity to travel in order to track down the hard-to-locate photographer. This may seem extreme, but it provided the catalyst for Walter to go on adventures. And on adventures he goes – from New York to Greenland, Iceland, then Afghanistan.
“Hey, Todd…I can’t really talk right now. I’m on my way to a volcano.”
The cast is, to put it mildly, pretty great. Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Sean Penn, and Patton Oswalt round out the talented cast. Of course, Stiller is playing a character which isn’t unfamiliar to him – the unappreciated, underestimated, adventure-seeking male (“Night at the Museum” anyone?). He seems to have a knack for these types of roles.
Overall, this film is delightful to watch. There’s comedy, adventure, romance (basically covering three key Hollywood plot-lines) done in a charming way. Underneath all of the exaggerated elements is an important message: live the life you’ve dreamed of instead of just imagining the possibilities.