The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Directed by Ben Stiller
I’ve always been leery of those sappy, PG, Christmas Day movie releases that are often billed under “family” or “adventure.” You always know that just means it’s not funny enough to be a “comedy” or exciting enough to be “action.” I don’t feel the same way anymore. Not after seeing “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”…on DVD, because I didn’t believe my friends when they saw it in theaters and told me it was actually good…I should have listened, but instead, I saw “Grudge Match.”
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a daydreamer. He often finds himself zoning out, wishing his life would go as planned. At work, he develops photograph negatives for Life magazine. But Life is about to transfer entirely to digital, so Walter is about to lose his job. The cover of the last issue will be a photograph so incredible, famed Life photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) calls it “the quintessence of life” (or is it “of Life”? I don’t remember). The problem is, the negative that O’Connell sent Walter has gone missing. And so has the ever-traveling nature photographer O’Connell. With the help of a co-worker, Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), and a big boost of confidence, Walter will travel to find O’Connell and the missing negative.
Would you be surprised if I told you he finds himself instead? Of course not. But “Walter Mitty” knows it’s somewhat of a cliche, so it works hard to change that and becomes a unique, hilarious, yet still awe-inspiring version of those yuppy Christmas Day films I so dread. O’Connell and his poignant dialogue have even been the subject of philosophical discussions I’ve had since watching “Walter Mitty.” Screenwriter Steve Conrad (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) filled his brilliant script to the brim with relevant life wisdom. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” worked so well it became a candidate for my next permanent movie purchase, something I want to re-watch again and again. Isn’t that about the best recommendation I can bestow?