Verdict: 4.5 / 5
It’s rare that I walk into a movie not expecting much, but walk out excited, entertained and generally happy. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has a terrible trailer which dissuaded several of my friends, but the movie is an entirely different experience. Ben Stiller has never been a favourite actor of mine, and his comedies in recent years have mostly fallen flat. It was interesting to experience a self-directed movie of his, but it worked.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is the average grunt in a large corporation (in this case Life Magazine). He lives on his own, day dreams some pretty insane scenarios, but seems to long for love. We discover he’s developed a crush on a co-worker, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wing), and has been following her on eHarmony. His job is handling all of the film (photo) stills which are sent to Life, and processing them. Walter is the only person to handle the elusive photographer, Sean O’Connell’s (Sean Penn) photographs. Life Magazine has been bought out, and are preparing layoffs and their final issue, Sean sends what he considers to be his perfect photo along with a few others to be used as Life’s final cover. The still cannot be found and Mitty takes it upon himself to find Sean and the missing still, even if it means travelling to foreign countries, climbing mountains and more.
Stiller’s co-stars add a lot of depth and character to their roles. While some of the personas are a little wacky (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is a drunk helicopter pilot who sings karaoke) each of them are round and plausible in their given environments. They add a perfect blend of comedy and drama to the overall story. Also, I love seeing Patton Oswalt in whatever he does.