The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Movie Review

Based on James Thurber’s popular short story, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY follows the title character played by Ben Stiller who is first and foremost an avid daydreamer.  But Walter’s career belongs to LIFE magazine developing the photos for the layout as an anonymous employee.  Living vicariously through a globe traveling photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), Walter yearns to be the man’s man that Sean appears to be, exploring new places and trying new things. Unfortunately, Walter barely has enough courage to talk to a girl he kind of likes in the office.  Frequently drifting into his own imagination involving outlandish scenarios where he inevitably is the stud for each circumstance, Walter is about to make his dreams a reality.

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

We all can relate to Walter.  Who among us has never fantasized about swinging into a burning building to save our school crush? Mine was my first grade teacher, Mrs. Skidmore… I started my daydreaming at a young age.  Walter Mitty has never quite shaken that immersive childhood imagination as he still thinks of outlandish scenarios where he heroically impresses his new co-worker (Kristen Wiig).

Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

While the idea of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY sounds entertaining with an element of inspiration, the film lacks a heart that truly connects the audience to the characters.  Director and star Ben Stiller deserves credit for pulling off double duty in the picture but that might be its downfall.  While there is no question Stiller is an extremely talented individual, perhaps if he only wore one hat the vision would have been more cohesive.

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The visuals are absolutely beautiful as Walter soon ventures out from his little dark room in the city in hopes to recover a lost image that may just save his job and the jobs of his co-workers.  Traveling to different countries, jumping from a helicopter, fending off a shark, narrowly escaping a volcano, and climbing the highest mountain, Walter experiences some mind blowing adventures that look incredible on screen.  However as the uplifting music played behind these triumphant events that were suppose to inspire and amaze, I couldn’t help feel a sense of emptiness that hovered over the action.

Sometimes the tone felt uneven, only working its best within the more comedic realms.  But these moments weren’t quite enough to establish the film into an identity.  Walter’s imagination world was fun but never had enough energy to fill the space.  Supporting work from Adam Scott as the new jerk boss and Patton Oswalt as supervisor for an online dating service provide the more humorous and delightful moments.   .

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

This is the second film version of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY, the first being in 1947 starring Danny Kaye.  Unfortunately, the adaptation while technically there, doesn’t quite have the charm and heart to pull it into a strong recommendation.  For now, we’ll have to settle for a cute film that is nice enough for the entire family but ultimately is only mildly amusing.


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