Do you remember the magical films of old, the ones that had no creative limit and wowed you with magical moments? The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the first film in many years that I would rank amongst those great classics. It’s clean, creative and absolutely entertaining.
Ben Stiller, who also directs, stars as the titular character, Walter Mitty. For 16 years, Walter has managed the photo negatives at Life Magazine’s headquarters in New York City. Like the perfectly organized negatives in his warehouse, Walter’s life is neat. Everything is planned, nothing spontaneous – that is, in the real world. While his actual life is plain and simple, the world in his imaginative mind is adventurous and dangerous – and Walter’s real world is about to become like that in his imagination.
On an average morning, Walter arrives at work to learn that Life Magazine has been acquired by a new corporation. The new owners plan on canceling Life’s print magazine, so the upcoming edition will be the last. Walter has been tasked with processing the photo that will be used on the iconic cover, an image that their prized photographer (Sean Penn) has deemed “the quintessence of life” – only Walter cannot find the negative. That specific image was missing from the negative roll, so Walter’s already-at-risk job is even more in danger. Taking the advice of a female co-worker (Kristen Wiig) that he’s too chicken to ask on a date, Walter decides to hunt down the photographer and photo on another continent, turning his life into the adventure that he used to only daydream about.
I recommend The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to anyone who wants to remember what it’s like to be an imaginative child again. It will make you want to return to that state, where nothing is impossible. It will make you wish you had the time to sit around and let your mind break the boundaries of reality. Through its charm and great big heart, Walter Mitty is the perfect escapist feel-good film – and it doesn’t hurt that it’s very well-written, acted and shot. Hats off to Ben Stiller; he’s made an exceptional film.
(Photo credit: 20th Century Fox)