The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Posted December 25, 2013 by in


Total Score

5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: adventure, fantasy
Director: Ben Stiller
MPAA Rating: PG
Actors: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Jon Daly, and Sean Penn
Length: 114 minutes
Release Date: 12/25/2013
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (presents), Samuel Goldwyn Films, Red Hour Films, New Line Cinema (produced in association with)
What We Thought

One of the most engaging films of 2013.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Who doesn’t zone-out when others are talking?  When Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) daydreams, however, he loses all touch with reality.  One minute, he’s in the elevator talking to his new boss Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott).  The next, he’s imagining they’re in a physics-defying fist-fight.  Maybe he’s seen The Matrix one too many times.  Then again, who hasn’t?
     Hendricks is overseeing the downsizing of Life magazine, where Walter is in charge of film negatives.  Photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), who still shoots on film, has sent in the photo for the magazine’s final edition, a photo he says that is the essence of what Life magazine was about.  The negative, however, is nowhere to be found.
     Walter confides the mishap to his co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), whom he has fantasies about (even when he’s talking right to her).  Cheryl encourages him to track down O’Connell and get the negative.  O’Connell, however, is a hard man to find, a born-adventurer without a permanent address or phone number.
     Walter, on the other hand, has never been anywhere or done much of anything.  But Cheryl is looking for someone adventurous, brave, and creative, and Walter wants to be that someone.  So Walter sets off for Greenland, Iceland, and beyond to find O’Connell and the missing negative, and become the person that Cheryl is looking for.
     The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an engaging film, beautiful to look at.  Director Ben Stiller reveals an eye for composition and a level of technical adeptness not seen in his previous films.  Stiller often lets the visuals takeover, such as a montage of Mitty’s trek through the mountains of Greenland.  He’s right to do it; it’s a great-looking movie, and an exciting adventure.
     At one point, Walter must find the courage to get on a helicopter with a drunk pilot (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), who knows where O’Connell was last.  Later, he skateboards down through the hills to get to the next village–there’s a fun-factor in that which makes the film an enjoyable fantasy.
     And it is that: a fantasy.  There’s not much difference between the secret life of his imagination and the adventure in the real world that he embarks on.  Rescuing everyone inside a building that’s about to explode, and jumping into an ocean that turns out to be infested with sharks–either way, it’s the stuff of Hollywood movies.  But there’s a message here of embracing reality by living out our fantasies, and having a richer life because of it.  How often is it that the only thing in our way is ourselves?  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wingsuit to try on.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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