The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about a man who believes that he has done nothing important in his life. He is stuck in a day job where near to no one appreciates him. Most of his free time is spent zoning out, imaging what life could be in all its splendor. I immediately can identify with that. Most of my life is spent in another realm of existence as well, of hypothetical futures, creativity and imagination. I guess that is why I enjoy writing. Enough of me though, more on Walter Mitty. Ben Stiller does an honorable job at portraying a man who is desperately searching in his own quietness for something beautiful. This searching finds itself in trying to have a relationship with his coworker, the quirky and pleasant Cheryl Melhoff played by Kristen Wiig. In the midst of all this, his company is undergoing a transformation. He needs a negative from a photograph for the last cover shot of Life Magazine which has disappeared. From then on he goes on an adventure to find what he has lost in his life.
As far as the positives, the cinematography is quite creative and enjoyable to watch. There are plenty of picturesque moments aiding the film in its search for quiet, overwhelming beauty. The acting is also enjoyable and the funny moments are at times heart warming.
What this film appears to be lacking is true themes. It masquerades itself around, trying to convince us that it has a higher purpose, but I couldn't really find any. Maybe I wasn't searching hard enough. I guess one could say that beauty is found within oneself which, in a way, is pointed out at the end, but nothing really pure and thought provoking is quite in there. It muddles in the important aspects of courage and meaning instead of living in a dream world, but never really meets its destination in my view. While not every film needs a theme, it would definitely be welcome in a film that is more or less about living life to the fullest.
This film is also incredibly meandering with a real lack of much enjoyable pacing. This can be forgiven if the moments that it does sidetrack on are compelling and satisfying. As much as I wanted to be satisfied with the lackadaisical movement, there are very few payoffs. The payoffs that it does have though are beautiful. His moment with Sean Penn is a very well done scene that searches for tranquility and beauty in a world that can be tainted by one's work.
I don't want to give you the impression that this isn't a good film. I just don't think it is a great one. At least it aims for higher purpose instead of giving us some half baked, predictable, Hollywood disappointment. Thanks Ben Stiller for trying. I just wish it would have been more.
My personal preference: 3/5
How well it was made: 3/5
(You can find set film soon at your local Redbox)