In today's busy world, where we all struggle to fulfil our dreams, it's easy to imagine ourselves with a bigger, better, bolder life. Ben Stiller brings this idea to the big screen as he stars, directs and produces 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty', a journey to turn those daydreams into reality.
Meek and mild-mannered Walter Mitty works for TIME Magazine, and imagines his life is much more exciting than it really is. When the company announces they'll be printing their final edition, Walter is put in charge of the prestigious cover - only it seems the legendary yet elusive photographer Sean O'Connell (a very rugged Sean Penn) has failed to send in the essential film negative. With the help of work colleague and crush Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), Walter must tackle the real world to track down O'Connell and, at the same time, turn his romantic and heroic fantasies into a reality.
This is an epic adventure, both into the mind of an intrepid daydreamer, and in the physical sense - we travel to Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan with Walter as he searches for the photograph and, in turn, himself.
The film is loosely based on a short story written by James Thurbur way back in 1939, but what Stiller and writer Steve Conrad have accomplished here is quite phenomenal. They bring the character into the 21st century, where companies are under pressure to adapt or die, people prioritise work over life, and traversing the globe is a pipe dream for many. Walter Mitty is, in many ways, an incarnation of Thurbur himself, with his off-beat imagination, but also the über-embodiment of every middle-class worker today.
Stiller and cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh have created a beautiful masterpiece to watch. Walter's daydreams are incorporated seamlessly into his everyday life, and the film's initial geometric and sterile shots throughout the TIME building juxtapose wonderfully with the hand-held and sweeping helicopter shots as Walter travels the world.
This is an epic adventure, both into the mind of an intrepid daydreamer, and in the physical sense.
This film is a poignantly (as opposed to laugh-out-loud) funny affair, largely thanks to Stiller's straight performance as Mitty; there's not a hint of 'Zoolander' to be seen. Patton Oswalt ('United States of Tara') as the eHarmony help desk employee and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as the intoxicated helicopter pilot are utterly brilliant, and Kristen Wiig is surprisingly sincere in a relatively dramatic role as Walter's love interest, and perhaps underutilised. Shirley MacLaine also has a small role as Walter's mother, bringing to life the kind of mum everyone dreams of having.
It's also worth noting the brilliant soundtrack that accompanies 'Walter Mitty' - there are some truly grandiose tunes from José González and Of Monsters And Men, which play spine-tingingly beneath some of the film's most crucial scenes. There's also some fantastic covers, including one from Jack Johnson, and Kristen Wiig even provides a karaoke track (or duet, you decide) of David Bowie's 'Space Oddity'. Just like the film itself, it's an eccentric yet thoroughly enjoyable offering.
If you've ever wanted to be someone else, this film is for you. If you've ever wanted to throw it all in and run away, this film is for you. If you've ever fantasised about being something more than you are, then this film is for you.