Based on the 1939 John Thurber’s short story by the same title, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is the uplifting story of a daydreamer facing the un-romantic everyday life. Ben Stiller – here in the role of producer, director and actor – delivers a film which certainly does not lack in wit and imagination but sadly succumbs to cliché in the long run. It is a shame for a film which is otherwise charmingly surreal and embellished with breathtaking cinematography and an enthralling soundtrack.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is an employee at Life magazine. The news of the incumbent closure have just reached him and he is given the important task to print the last-edition cover photographed by the legendary photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn). However, the precious negative is not in the same envelope as the others sent by Sean and Walter sets off on a journey in between fantasy and reality in order to find the lost photograph. Helped by Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), his unspoken love interest, he will go as far as battling with sharks in Greenland, escaping a volcanic eruption in Iceland, and climbing the Himalaya just before realising that the answer to his search has always been under his nose.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” presents a good cast and an original approach to the short story it was adapted from although it sometimes lacks credibility for – ironically – Walter’s real life; by the end of the film we know very little about him except from the fact he has this incredible imagination. The film features some remarkable daydream sequences although the simpler and more poetic ones work better than those packed with CGI. The excellent cinematography conveys the feel of a modern-day fairy tale which captures the viewer from beginning to end.
On the whole, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, although not flawless, is a rather enjoyable and funny film that does not entirely disappoint on the fantasy side and that will certainly make the perfect festive treat.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” will be released in the UK on Boxing Day.