Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty.
Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty.

Life’s What You Make It
Rating: ****

He’s a simpleton, this Walter Mitty. He has been working as a Negative Asset Manager at Life magazine for 16 years when news spreads that the magazine is moving online (I’m told that Life ceased publication in 2007).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty appealed to me, because I too am a daydreamer. I’ve defused bombs and jumped off airplanes while Walter Mitty travels mountains, saves dogs and gets into a Hancock-like fight sequence. While the film has enough “awww” moments, Stiller has incorporated quirky situational humour such as pointing out directions with two Afghani mountain guides or even a well-imagined piece in the middle of the Icelandic sea that involves a shark.

Kristen Wiig – what a wonderful actress she is turning out to be. For comedians like her and even Steve Carell, the comedy drama genre is the true calling. I wouldn’t probably say the same about the bearded Adam Scott, who clearly does not know his character well, or maybe he’s poorly written.

While the daydreams are presented as larger-than-life moments, the scenes where Mitty embraces the pleasures of life are presented in a simple yet fulfilling way. The joy in his eyes as he skateboards across beautiful Icelandic landscapes, or while trekking the Afghani hills – everything appears beautiful when he really lives it. As Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) says “I’m not gonna let the camera distract me. I’m just gonna enjoy this moment.”

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty comes with minute flaws. How does he just fly to Greenland without visa? How can he receive calls when he’s 18,000 feet about sea level? And yes, the character of Todd Maher (Patton Oswalt) just doesn’t sound like any other online dating call center representative. If you wanna know how they usually sound, here’s a clue – boring.

The film also features a different motto for Life magazine. One which I cannot forget:
“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.”

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