The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Stiller Stars & Directs in Feel-Good Fantasy Flick
Adam ScottBen Stiller...
Action & AdventureComedy...
Loosely based on a two-page short – written by legendary New Yorker journalist, James Thurber, in 1939 – and told through a series of mesmerizing scenes, Ben Stiller’s latest project sure is a pretty, though in terms of the story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty lacks the true imagination that it promises.
Meet Walter Mitty (Stiller); a forty-two year old negative assets manager working for Life magazine, who is known for slipping deep into his daydreams as a way of making up for his otherwise unadventurous existence. The job of handling negatives and keeping track of all the photographs used within the magazine has long served as a tool for Walter to escape into his wild world of fantasy.
Regrettably, the company soon announces it will be making cuts and that they will be running their final print before making their transition onto a digital platform. Walter’s creepy bully of a boss, Ted Hendricks (Scott), instructs him to use a photo taken by renowned photo journalist Sean O’Connell (Penn) for their final cover, only Walter can’t seem to find it.
In danger of losing his job, Walter panics and decides to hop on a plane to hunt the photographer down himself before the magazine’s deadline. Encouraged by co-worker, Cheryl (Wiig) – who Walter has had a crush on for a long time – he soon finds himself on a globe-trekking journey which might not only save his job, but also his sanity.
The importance of living life to the fullest and making the most of every opportunity that gets thrown your way lies as the driving force behind the story. Stiller is likeable as the forever-lost daydreamer; an escapist who prefers the comfort of his imagination over real life itself. As Mitty’s love interest, Wiig tones down her comedic instincts for the role and is sadly underused, with the same going for Maclaine and Hahn, who play Walter’s supportive mother and sister, while Penn is in his element in the role of the adventurous photographer whom Walter is trying to track down.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is beautifully shot and thanks to the wonderful work of cinematographer, Stuart Dryburghs, the film’s choice of scenery – from icy Greenland landscapes, to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas – is crisp, polished and incredibly alluring.
However, the message that the film is so desperately trying to convey – stop dreaming and start living – never really comes together in any real and sincere way, nor does it ever touch on the true sentiments of the allusion. Running out of steam pretty early on, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, although very pretty to look at, is perhaps a little too lost in its own world of dreams and fantasies.