In 2013 Ben Stiller released The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a wonderful rendition of James Thurbers short story. In Thurbers short story Walter Mitty frequently escapes his everyday life by drifting off into his much more exciting fantasies.Stiller, with a budget of only $90,000,000, managed to amass an impressive cast. Firstly, you have Kathryn Hahn and Shirley MacLaine who play Walters Sister, Odessa, and Mother, Edna, respectively. Then you have Patton Oswalt who portray Todd Maher, an employee of eHarmony. Additionally, theres Adam Scott, Walters less than friendly boss, and Sean Penn, the physical embodiment of Walters adventurous daydreams.
A timid Walter Mitty sets off to work, another day of drifting in and out of reality at his workplace, Life Magazine Headquarters. What should have been just another day of processing film, turned into something far greater, an adventure. When the negative film piece that is supposed to make the cover goes missing, Walter, with the help of Cheryl, starts investigating the matter. Before long, the two discover that the negative may have never left the arms of Sean. Thereafter, Ted, Walters new boss, threatens his job if Walter doesnít procur the film immediately. In order to keep his job, Walter starts following the trail and soon starts to experience life in a way that isnít so different from his fantasies. Along the way Walter discovers that theres more to life, and himself than he couldve imagined. Walter, throughout the film begins to open up and come out of his cocoon as his journey experiences, and Stiller portray this in a wonderful way as both the director and star. As the film progresses, however subtle it may be, the colors get more and more vivid to help show signify the change in the way that Walter is experiencing his life. The cinematography along with the music that was provided by Jose Gonzalez really help tie in the film as a whole. Cheryl, who is the reason for more than one of Walters daydreams, plays a key role in helping Walter open up and undertake his adventure. Eventually, Walter ceases to daydream altogether as his reality and imagination begin to fade into one. As Walter travels to Greenland, Iceland, and Yemen in search of Sean, the viewer is blown away with mesmerizing shots of Iceland as well as New York. Rather than travel to Yemen, Greenland, and Iceland, the bulk of the shooting was done in Iceland while the rest was filmed in New York. Adding to the film, each actor seemed to disappear into their role as they depict various characters in Walter Mittys life. Though they could very stand alone in their own roles they seemed to always make sure to orbit Stiller in order to help the viewer get a better look into Walters life. Now, Sean Penn, as easy as it is for him to play the role of a stoic freelance photographer, really outdid himself. When Walter finally catches up to Sean and confronts him there is this sort of anticlimax. When the two meet, the viewer finds that they arent as different as Walter led to believe. In the end Walter is left with this new outlook on life.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a hopeful film that has a certain naivety. Perhaps, that is what makes it so appealing to the viewer, the beauty of its innocence. It looks at only the better side of humanity and life, and all that life has to offer. Critics however, agree that although the film does have merit and is greatly optimistic, it fails to provide enough material to truly get the message across. Audiences worldwide are very fond of the movie, although they do agree that there is assuredly room for improvement. I for one am able to watch this movie over and over again, and still find myself smiling at how Walter takes the time to step aside and experience life. Its ironic really, that Walter works for Life Magazine and sees all these wonderful photos all the time, yet he had not truly experienced life first hand.