The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: A Flickcharter’s Movie Review
We all have them: Moments in our life when we wish we were someone else. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of those movies that not only proves it, but also makes us realize that living our lives is the only way we can ever make the most of them. While it will most likely get lost in the shuffle of the other year-end movies, this is one of the absolute gems of the Holiday season.
The title character is a dreamer who works as a picture editor for Life Magazine. He likes his job well enough, but more often than not, he finds that he is in the process that his family calls “zoning out,” where he dreams that his life is more fun and inspired. Around his office, the new accountant Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig) has caught his attention. Immediately smitten, he has yet to get the nerve to introduce himself. Elsewhere at work, Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), the new man in charge of the magazine, has decided to take the entire magazine online, so as a result the next issue of the magazine will be the last one in print. Walter has received a series of pictures from Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), who has been Walter’s point man for all of the years involved with Life Magazine. By being told that picture 25 is one of the best he’s ever shot (and the fact that the magazine wants to use it no matter what), the optimism is lost when the photo turns up missing in the photo sheet.
Walter now needs the help of Cheryl in order to track down Sean’s missing picture, and with her help, he starts his journey around the world of trying to find Sean and the picture before Hendricks gets rid of him (As his journey begins, layoffs are already underway throughout the building). Time might be limited, but with Cheryl’s help in getting the information, he will eventually get to him, but not before realizing he has finally started living his life. Considering his career, many would not think that Ben Stiller would be capable of making this movie, but if you manage to remember that he made Reality Bites at the beginning of his career, you would think otherwise. Not only does he perfectly balance the comedy and drama, but he has probably made his most successful directorial effort to date. It’s a truly lovely movie about life and how many of us are just waiting to live it.
Some of the crazy fantasies that many of you have seen in the previews are really only relegated to the first half hour, so they are not as intrusive as one might think, but once Walter starts his journey, it really becomes the kind of trip that many can only dream about. Looking at the beautiful scenery of Greenland and Iceland, it looks like beautiful outtakes from the Stiller-produced The Big Year but at the same time, it’s all real and plays much like a postcard.
Stiller is ideal as Mitty, making him a pathetic dreamer in the opening scenes and then making him much more confident as the film goes on. Wiig is every bit as interesting as his love interest. Immediately, it is clear to us why he likes her so and it gives us a big rooting interest in Walter to win her. In the supporting performances, Scott is perfectly despicable as our villain, but it is Penn who makes the most of his extended cameo by showing us a man who loves the work he is capable of. His penultimate scene with Stiller is one of the film’s true highlights, as the photographer finally gets to meet the man who has been important to his career. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not for the cynical, but for those who like actual escapism with their dreams. Unlike other films of this ilk, it doesn’t exactly go for the obvious. Stiller manages to keep us on our toes, but he also keeps the movie moving along at a brisk pace. It doesn’t detract from our enjoyment because the trip itself is well worth taking.
So how does The Secret Life of Walter Mitty compare to other films on my Flickchart?
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty vs. The Whole Nine Yards
The Whole Nine Yards is quite funny, but compared to the adventures of Walter Mitty, it’s just too lovely not to succeed. Mr. Mitty takes the matchup! The Secret Life of Walter Mitty vs. Moulin Rouge Now it gets a little tricky. Sure, Moulin Rouge is kinetic and beautiful, but Walter Mitty’s trip is just a little better. Here’s to another victory to Mitty and company!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty vs. Memento
Yet another tough call here. Memento is terrific, but the structure of telling the story backwards in the end just doesn’t work as well as many others think. Still, it’s audacious enough to still topple Mitty. Memento wins!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty vs. The Odd Couple
The Odd Couple is great; so is Walter Mitty. Having said that, the former has been ingrained in memory since seeing it as a kid, and it still has the advantage. Sorry, Mr. Mitty, but Felix and Oscar’s bickering tops you here!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty vs. The Lion King
The most controversial matchup today! By going up against a classic Disney film, we are in an interesting position. It begs the question: Which environment would I rather be in? Africa, or going as far as the Himalayas? Thinking about that, climbing mountains would be my preference. Mr. Mitty, you have beat Simba!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty vs. Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic play gives us some big laughs in the process, but it doesn’t add to as much as expected. Mr. Mitty’s adventures give it the final win here!
So where does The Secret Life of Walter Mitty end up on my Flickchart?
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is currently ranked #411 out of 3,998 movies on my Flickchart. While it misses my Top 10 of the year, it is a truly beautiful and surprisingly touching movie that knows what it is doing throughout. Plus, it has one of the most sensational soundtracks of the year. If you aren’t too cynical about it, falling in love with this movie should be extremely simple. Don’t miss it!