This was not quite the film I was expecting, and that makes me realize I have a trend in writing these reviews.  I tend to say that in reviews at a rate higher than in films I watch but don’t review.  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is supposedly a re-make of a film starring Danny Kaye based on a short story by James Thurber.  I say “supposedly” because, though I have not seen either of these works, the driving force and the MacGuffin of this film did not exist when they were produced.  This film should really be viewed for its own merits and not for appreciation of some prior effort.WalterMitty

The story is about a man (Ben Stiller) working on the last issue of Life Magazine.  His responsibility is to manage the negatives of all the photographs for the magazine.  Walter is a lonely man who reaches out to e-harmony to try to talk to a woman (Kristen Wiig) in his office.  Walter daydreams openly in public, zoning out to the point where a new manager taps him on the forehead to see how long before Walter comes back to his body.  The emptiness of his real life is reflected in the “Been There Done That” section of his e-harmony profile, which Patton Oswalt’s disembodied voice tries to encourage Walter to fill out.

Walter is thrust to importance when the final issue is announced, and he must print the photograph that will be the final cover.  The only problem is the selected negative is missing.  Here Walter transitions from daydreaming about being an arctic explorer to impress the girl to actually leaping from a helicopter into the North Atlantic to find the photographer, but finding his own bold adventurous spirit in the process.

In his career, Ben Stiller is hit or miss for some people.  I, personally, like his work very much, stemming back to the short-lived “The Ben Stiller Show” in the early ‘90s.  Directing and starring in this piece, I felt he brought some of his comedic talent to the production if not the character.  The film is not a comedy per se, but there are some very funny moments arising from the nature of life—actually being in Greenland but daydreaming about Kristen Wiig performing a karaoke version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which motivates Walter to get on that helicopter, for example.

I felt moved by the film, not to climb mountains in northern Afghanistan or such foolhardy endeavors, but by the heart of the character, delivering for what he believes is important, and his own hero’s journey.