THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (Ben Stiller, 2014)
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) likes to daydream, a lot. It's what keeps him going through the day. It's also this quality that makes him a weirdo in front of his officemates at Life Magazine, particularly to new head honcho and resident A-hole Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott).
And yet, as we later learn in the movie, Walter's daydreaming becomes his ultimate tool for triumph. It's his rich and vivid imagination that defeats the impossible.
As director, Stiller approaches the material with an overt sense of childhood fascination of grand adventures, of becoming the hero of the story. Mixing equal amounts of humor, pathos, and eye-popping special effects, the result is a jetsetting experience that allows us to empathize with Walter Mitty as we tag along for his adventures.
As actor, the always charming Stiller makes Walter Mitty a triumphant representation of the ordinary guy whom nobody noticed, but is out to conquer his fears and the world.
Kristen Wiig, who plays Walter's co-worker Cheryl Melhoff plays a huge deal of influence on his transformation as a character. Giving a toned down, minimalist performance here (as opposed to BRIDESMAIDS and her SNL skits), Wiig deconstructs the "dream girl" archetype by maintaining that an office girl, who has a kid, and has a previous husband can still be lovable.
The mission is the missing print of film that is supposed to be the cover for Life's final issue. The photo was taken by eccentric and reclusive photojournalist Sean O' Connell (Sean Penn, who packs a very brief but powerful onscreen appearance), which was entrusted to Walter as per usual, but on this instance the print is missing from the batch of prints that was mailed to him. Sean is old school. He doesn't have a phone and he is always on the go. So if Walter is to find that missing print, he has to seek Sean himself, wherever he may be.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY is a film that will stir up your soul and reach deep into one's humanity. It has just the right amount of adventure, comedy, and drama to make us feel as if we are on a journey to self-discovery ourselves. It is many things at once, a fantasy adventure, a social commentary on big business vis-a-vis technology, an emphasis on family however dysfunctional it may be, and the championing of human will against ridicule, against the norm. Every frame of WALTER MITTY is utterly magical it's hard to choose just one favorite scene.