Dir. Ben Stiller
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," a refinishing of James Thurber’s short story, opens in the slate gray world of corporate LIFE magazine where imaginative Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) works. Mitty, a standout only because of his sand-colored jacket in a sea of deep navy worker bees, is a negative assets manager for the company. His passion, apart from his penchant for impeccably maintaining thousands of photos, lies in daydreaming about his lovely coworker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig). Although too shy to talk to her in the office, he subsequently creates and fails to correctly use an eHarmony account to ask her on a date. Still, he finds himself content with his boring but tranquil life.
However, he soon finds himself in a rut searching for “Negative 25,” the photograph intended to be the last cover photo of the magazine taken by the world-renowned Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn). Mitty starts off his quest for the negative, only to escape the monotony of retreat by embracing a far more colorful fantasy. As he traverses the world to find the elusive photographer, Mitty finds that life becomes just as vibrant as his imagination if he is willing to break out of his shell.
The film adapted a unique approach to comedy. Its jokes were embedded in a seemingly monochromatic world. That landscape only made the laughter an even more amazing flavor to a well-prepared work. While there were grandiose moments, such as his imaginings and exciting, real-life encounters, Walter Mitty remained an individual with whom most people could relate. He was not terribly outspoken, and he understood his limitations and lived safely within them. Yet, he acted upon his potential with a force that many would assume to be beyond accessible. However, I must say that the film captures a moment of realization that can go beyond the norm. Considering that most people have the capacity to free themselves from their preconceived notions, the film demonstrates what can occur when someone breaks the mold. It is for this reason that, as people recognize their potential and their ability to act on it, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” will likely continue to grow into a staple of what it means to have a little bravery—and color—in life.