The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Movie Review


I first noticed this movie as a trailer, and I didn’t have a deep impression of this show, thinking it was a little akin to the less than successful movie “Sucker Punch”, which has a similar daydream cum fantasy / escapism kind of theme, but I was glad I decided to give it a chance.

It’s easy to consider this as a fine tourist promotion video of fine places, with a man who has trouble facing reality, but it actually combines the triad of elements that make for the most successful movies:
Action, humor and romance; all rolled together into a well-edited package with little spare fat, and gives the viewer a nice feel good end. It also combines two of my favorite hobbies outside of Hi Fi: travelling and photography.

Walter, played by Ben Stiller in his finest showing yet, is a Life Magazine Negative Editor, a dinosaur in the modern world of digital photography and online magazines. He lives a boring life in the dungeons of the Life Magazine company basement. He doesn’t do much and is the epitome of the boring loser, who daydreams of doing daring stunts to save dogs from burning buildings and impressing the love of his life, a co-worker called Cheryl Melhoff, but he just can’t bring himself to do anything real, and his new jerk of a boss makes fun of him and acts like the ass as he trims the payroll and downsizes the company with much glee.

Life Magazine is about to stop it’s paper editions, and jobs are cut, and he is soon to be made redundant after the last edition. Sean O’Connell played by Sean Penn sends him the photo which will be made into the cover page of this last edition, and Walter can’t find it. With his job in peril, he latches onto a series of clues to locate Sean and recover this photo.

What happens next is a journey through some of the most scenic places in the world, and the Oscar Nominated DP Stuart Dryburgh does a wonderful job of filming these places leading to plenty of gasps at the beauty of the places and also the rawness of the rugged lands and seas.

The movie works because it has a certain understated feel, captured brilliantly in the scene when Ben meets Sean, and there is a lack of overacting or hysterical emotion, and yet you feel a certain satisfaction, at the end, and the movie cleverly avoids showing what this missing photos is until the last 3 minutes of the show.

The cast is brilliant, from the jerk of a boss, played so devilishly by Adam Scott, that you really want to hate him, the lovely Kristin Wiig and many others, including the funny and very drunk helicopter pilot.

Here is a refreshing movie, that is a delight to watch, and not a single f-bomb or any other four letter word in sight, that manages to convey love without a sex scene, and captures many words by zooming in on the faces, with little words, but plenty of emotion conveyed in, simply by the juxtaposition of a wonderful background, a lovely score and some very sweet chemistry between the actors, and a solid performance by Ben Stiller.

After the credits roll, here is a movie that makes sigh, you want to watch it again, and 
think about your own life, then grab a backpack and get out there with a camera..

To top it off, you will see some very decent photography, and Sean using the Nikon F3 Titanium makes me want to take out my own FM2 or FG and slap in a roll of TMax 400 and put it all into my backpack and take off for Iceland.

A little spoiler here:

I love the concept that Sean didn’t take the shot in the mountains, but instead decides to admire the subject, because too often, as a photographer, we are too wrapped up in plastering our eyes to the viewfinder, and not spending enough time actually admiring the scenery or just taking in the moment.

Plot 4.5/5

As for action, actually surround effect fans and action junkies will find something to please them in the daydream sequences, and the volcano scene will definitely wake up the neighbors..

The movie is low on chick factor in the traditional sense, but the casting of Kristen Wiig was brilliant, she carries a world weary beauty, not the sexy, booby type but a more mature, and still graceful kind of charm and if the scene in Greenland was real, I must say she can sing a tune or two…

Add in a nice soundtrack, and you have the elements of a movie to keep. I don’t agree with the negative reviews, and perhaps this movie isn’t Oscar material, but to me, this movie is one of my top 20 movies of all time, and I look forward to owning the Blu Ray disc and possibly the soundtrack too.

Well recommended.


I leave you with the motto of Life Magazine as depicted in the movie:

“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.”

I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.


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