Film Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


Sometimes it’s easy to forget about the invisible people behind the scenes. For every momentous event where an individual achieves or creates something of note, there are usually a handful of nameless folk pushing buttons and pulling levers out of the spotlight. Thanklessly collaborating towards something with no hope or expectation of glory. Without these unsung heroes, a lot of shit just wouldn’t happen. Walter Mitty, Negative Assets Manager at Life magazine, is one such individual. He is played by Ben Stiller, who also directed the film, I imagine, for the hell of it and because he can.

So, without giving too much away, Walter Mitty chooses to escape the mundane and the shortcomings of his life by escaping into an elaborate fantasy world where he is the star. He is forced to become the hero in reality, when the negative for the cover photo for the final print edition of Life goes missing. He is inspired to do so by a secretly admired coworker, Cheryl Melhoff, lovingly played by Kristen Wiig. She is perfectly cast as the adorably approachable “MILBFW” (mother I’d like to be friends with).

013The story explores themes and emotions familiar to us all. Most notably, the reality of living a lonely existence in a world where technology paints the illusion of endless connectivity. However, a blank eHarmony profile forces Walter to talk his love interest tête-à-tête. The official website offers a charming line which sums it all up rather eloquently.

“You can either stand in the safety of your life or run headstrong into the unknown.”

I can sympathise deeply with a pointlessly meandering imagination. Jesus, my mind can wander. The corridor leading to the theatrette hosting the pre launch screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is lined with blockbuster movie posters, one of which being The Matrix. My eyes venture through the back of the poster and into Hugo Weaving’s lounge room. I wonder if, as he is watching a particularly unfavourable evening news item, he reclines, spouting “Humans are a disease…”.

The casting for this film is immaculate. The visual effects were engaging, but complimentary to the story. The inclusion of some song by Of Monsters and Men was baffling, but I can forgive that.

I recommend seeing this film in the company of someone you give a shit about with the intention to walk away having felt something. And if the theatre is too hot, call your people to tell the air conditioner people to crank it up a notch. Even if they’re sitting right next to you.*

Favourite moment: Sean Penn’s character musing “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention”.

*Google ‘Apocryphal Ben Stiller’ and click the first hit…

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is in cinemas from Boxing Day.



Words and red carpet pictures by Philip Erbacher. See more photos at Facebook