Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty
Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff
Shirley Maclaine as Edna Mitty
Adam Scott as Ted Hendricks
Kathryn Hahn as Odessa Mitty
Sean Penn as Sean O’Connell
In Theaters December 25
5 out of 5 stars
Walter Mitty is a quiet, mild-mannered man who works in the negative-asset management department for Life Magazine. His days are spent organizing and cataloging the negatives of pictures that are used in the magazine. Day in and day out all he sees are pictures of the world, of other people’s lives while daydreaming that his life was more adventurous, more fulfilling, and less lonely. He also daydreams about Cheryl (Wiig), a girl who works in the office that he has a crush on, but he’s too shy to approach her. One day it is announced that Life Magazine will no longer be a print magazine and will be produced online only. This sends a shockwave through the entire company, because several people will be out of work. The executive team in charge of the transition is less than sympathetic and wants to implement the change as soon as possible. Since the next cover will be the magazine’s last, the head of the transitional team wants it to be a dynamic photo. World renowned photo journalist Sean O’Connell (Penn) has just sent in a roll of film and has indicated that negative 25 is the photo that should be used. Walter has been handling O’Connell’s film for years, and the two have had a tentative simpatico relationship. When Walter receives the negative packet, negative 25 is missing. Walter panics as he tries to find it. The head of the transition team, Ted Hendricks (Scott), who has pretty much no feeling for Walter other than thinly veiled contempt, pressures Walter to produce the negative or he’s fired. Walter furiously tries to track down negative 25 by trying to retrace O’Connell’s last known whereabouts to contact him. The search for negative 25 unexpectedly becomes the adventure that Walter has been dreaming about all his life.
First-time director Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty bears a slight resemblance to the 1947 Danny Kaye Film of the same name in basic premise, but Ben really pulls this story into the modern age with inspired visual storytelling and the feeling of loss once you understand that Life Magazine, one of the finest photojournalist publications in history has fallen to progress. Even though the last print issue was actually published in may of 2000, you still feel that sense of loss as all of the employees are realizing that this is the end of an era.
Ben’s portrayal of Walter is heartening. Everyone knows Walter, everyone has been Walter, so we are all sitting in our seats living his fantastic journey along with him. This journey that takes him around the world and back only to find that living life is all about taking chances. Safe is safe, but sometimes you have to let go and live. The recurring motto of Life Magazine which Walter comes to truly understand is: “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.”
Including a mind-blowing soundtrack and a surprisingly grounded performance by SNL’s Kristen Wiig with a brief scene with the always wonderful Shirley Maclaine as Walter’s mom, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is an absolutely brilliant film and should be seen. Humorous and touching, it should leave you with a good and hopeful, positive feeling. I urge you to not miss this film.
Check out the trailer for “THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY” below: