The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is for all those perpetual day-dreamers out there who want to break free from the chains of day-to-day life and just mix it up a little.
Funny man Ben Stiller stars, and directs, alongside Kristen Wiig and Sean Penn in the theatrical adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name. The film follows Walter Mitty (Stiller), a day-dreamer extraordinaire, as he embarks on making his life more “noteworthy“. His life is summed up by his online dating profile on eHarmony, the backdrop to the film, which is completely void of any detail or substance.
Mitty works in the photography department at Life Magazine: a dark and lonely place hidden away from the rest of the company, and the ideal place for someone like himself. As the cobwebs settle on the announcement of the forthcoming closure of the magazine, Mitty is assigned with the task of bringing famous freelance photographer Sean O’Connell’s (Penn) best work together for Life’s final front cover.
Unfortunately for the day-dreamer the sought-after picture is not where it should be, leaving him on the verge of the sack and the magazine without its front page photo for the final issue. Mitty sees this as his chance to break free, and encouraged by his fellow co-worker and secret crush Cheryl Melhoff (Wiig), he heads off to find the elusive O’Connell and the missing picture.
The tagline for the film is ‘Stop Dreaming, Start Living’, a beautiful sentiment, but one that the film fails to encapsulate. Mitty does follow that advice. The frequency of his day-dreams drops significantly, and he travels the world in search of O’Connell. So, what is the problem? It was just so drab.
Making skateboarding down the winding roads of Iceland, or climbing mountains in Afghanistan an anti-climatic affair is a hard task, but The Secret Life of Walter Mitty achieved just that. To fall in love with the film, you must fall for Walter Mitty. Despite his newly found outlook on life, the films protagonist, through all his adventures, stayed as dull and one-dimensional throughout. Putting such an uninspiring character in environments that are meant to be awe-inspiring spectacles just brings everything down to Mitty’s own high-levels of, well, tediousness. The lack of emotional connection with the lead character makes the film feel hollow, as does his relationship with Melhoff.
Its slow-pacing makes the film feel much longer than it is actually is, leaving you feeling exasperated, despite the fact nothing seemed to have really happened over the 110 minutes running time. If that is what life is meant to be like, staying at home would be more of an adrenaline rush. Carry on dreaming, Walter.