Based loosely on the short story by James Ferber, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the story of a man who finds courage and adventure in the strangest of ways.
Ben Stiller acts the timid Walter Mitty who we are introduced to, a man who fantasizes about performing brave and fantastic feats while routinely zoning out and missing trains and conversations with actual people. When his new boss relentlessly mocks him for his slow responses, Mitty slips into a day dream in which brass knuckles are exchanged between them.
Arguably most well known for his role as Greg Focker in Meet The Parents, Ben Stiller once again unleashes his sweet side, but Mitty is a far more endearing character than Greg Focker was. As Mitty struggles to update his eHarmony profile, leaving the "experiences" section empty, we are drawn into his quiet and lonely life.
Mitty watches his co-worker Cheryl from afar and fails with his attempts to strike up conversations with her. His job as a "negative assets" man means he spends his work days in the basement with one co-worker scanning through photograph negatives that old school *and famous* photographer Sean O'Connell refuses to give up on using. Despite the fact that other magazines and photographers have switched to digital photography, O'Connell remains staunchly supportive of negatives and keeping his whereabouts unknown.
Two pieces of important news are broken: Life Magazine is being shut down and O'Connell has sent a negative to Mitty that photographs the "quintessence of life". The new big shot heads of the magazine decide to have one last paper issue with O'Connell's promising photo gracing the cover.
One problem: the negative is missing...and thus Mitty embarks on what will be an eye-opening journey. Having never left the U.S.A., he finds himself travelling to foreign countries and being placed in crazy situations that he could only have fantasized. In the mean time, he keeps receiving calls on his cell phone from eHarmony customer service (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who becomes amazed (and somewhat disbelieving) of the crazy adventures Mitty keeps finding himself in.
This is a wonderful novel about the resilience of the human spirit and how much we can change if we open ourselves up to it. As Walter Mitty explores the world and finds himself in dangerous albeit somewhat humorous situations, he begins to open up and experiences life more fully. His character is sweet and easy to root for: you want the underdog to triumph!
Perhaps I was emotional over the holiday season, but there was glorious moments in this movie and I found myself leaking a little (tear tear) from witnessing Mitty's transformation from timidity to strength and bravery.
When Mitty does find O'Connell (and eventually the negative), it's not quite what one would expect, but that becomes another life lesson. The message of the movie is simple and sweet: it's all too easy and comfortable to become stagnant in life. The world is far too beautiful to not be experienced to its fullest. In short, in the movie, the motto of Life Magazine and perhaps of life itself and it's purpose:
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer,to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
This was easily my favourite late 2013 movie and perhaps one of the best ones I have seen through 2013. I highly recommend watching it. (Another plus was the amazing soundtrack spearheaded by the wonderful Jose Gonzalez.) Watch it and let yourself be wooed by the amazing cinematography, the sweet romance, and the growth of courage and love. The message is positive and I found myself laughing, smiling and crying while watching it.
9/10 even if some critics disagree.