In my family I’m known for zoning out in the middle of things (especially if something has caught my eye on tv. In my mind I can be thinking of something as simple as what I may have for dinner, other times I can be in a completely different place having an adventure or imagine what I would be doing if I was stuck in a post apocalyptic zombie world (I’d like to think I’d be a kick-ass zombie slayer but more than likely I would have been eaten in the first wave of the zombie outbreak). So I completely related to the protagonist in Ben Stiller’s fifth directorial film-although I’m not quite as bad as Walter.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a negative assets manager at Life Magazine. He has a crush on a co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wigg) but is too shy to talk to her. He escapes his mundane life by daydreaming about having an adventurous life and wooing Cheryl. When a specific negative that’s already been chosen for the cover of the magazine’s final issue goes missing Walter has to put his fears aside to find photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).
I really warmed to Walter from the start being a fellow daydreamer. His imaginary world is skillfully brought to life by Stiller’s direction. You can tell he is growing as a director and he handles the transitions from Walter’s mundane life into his adventurous dreams with aplomb. Although not a straight up comedy there are many funny moments in the film. Probably the best being an imaginary fight scene between Walter and an obniouxs transition manager Ted (Adam Scott-very convincing as a massive douche) over-of all things-a Stretch Armstrong toy, and a hilarious parody of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
I was glad to see that the love interest of Cheryl being a three-dimensional character and the casting of the very likeable Wigg certainly helps with that. She has her own interests (an ex husband and a fear of redundancy) that rounds out her character from just being the object of Walter’s affections. The scenes between her and Walter discussing their lives are genuinely sweet and made them believable as a potential couple.
The first part of the film is great, but when Walter sets off on his trip I found myself losing interest a couple of times. Some of this was funny and interesting but other times I just wanted him to hurry up and find that photographer. Part of the problem was perhaps extending a short story to a feature length film so naturally things would need to be added into the story. Still I couldn’t help but wish the film could have been edited to be slightly shorter.
However despite its flaws there was plenty to enjoy following Walter Mitty’s secret life. I did leave the cinema with a smile on my face and a desire to follow Life magazine’s motto:
“To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed.”
Rating 3.5/5-a feel-good film with Stiller on fine form as both director and actor