But beneath all of Walter’s wild daydreams and adventures, lies a romantic comedy that is subtle enough not to override the important messages in this film.
The second act of the film sees Walter embark on a life-changing adventure where the lines of reality and fantasy begin to blur. Stiller had already proven he can shoot the fantastical, the wonderful and the grand with his previous directorial work on Tropic Thunder and Zoolander, but the artful craftsmanship that has gone into Walter Mitty is of a distinctly higher calibre. To see the world; things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. If must you do one thing before the end of 2013 or going into 2014, head to the cinema from Boxing day and see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it’s a modern day classic. Paralyzed by family responsibilities and the daily work grind, Walter finds solace in his day dreams, where he rescues dogs from burning buildings, pummels his overbearing boss in a cartoonish street fight, and woos the woman of his dreams, accounting staff member Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig).However, when it is announced that Life Magazine will cease publication of physical issues, in a move to the online market, famed Life photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) sends in a final cover image that he claims will capture the  “quintessence” of the iconic magazine.
However, every now and then a film comes out that does precisely that and Ben Stiller’s Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one such film. Ben Stiller has come a long way since cutting his teeth as a slapstick funny man, making his way into action (comedy) and progressively moving into directing and writing, but this latest piece sits at the top of the pile as some of his finest work yet.

Walter is tasked with finding the final cover image taken by renowned adventurer and photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) that has mysteriously gone missing, sparking a mission to track down Sean using three pictorial clues, that take him from Greenland to the Himalayas via Afghanistan on a journey that is funny, frightening and transformational. His love interest, Cheryl Melhoff is played by the magnificently dowdy but charming Kristen Wiig. Whilst I would still hesitate to put it side-by-side with Forrest Gump, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty packs a powerful, joyful and inspirational punch that celebrates qualities that we should all remember to treasure; a sense of adventure, humility, honesty and dedication to good work.
The pathos of the main character is well-captured in subtle ways, as are the feelings of triumph when he is able to go beyond his own self-imposed limitations. As we join Walter on his journey we see a man gradually break free of his sedentary lifestyle, revealing hidden passions in skate-boarding, hiking and thrill-seeking. The cinematography is extraordinary– this is a drama that *must* be seen in theaters. His transformation is something many of us can relate to, which is partly why I believe this film will have such a strong impact on it’s audience. I expect that most adults with any sensitivity at all will find this a highly satisfying experience that speaks to their very cores.

My wife and I were privileged to see it in an advanced screening, and can’t believe we have to wait another couple of weeks for the official release to go back and see it again. Yet, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a surprisingly impactful and uplifting film experience on par with some of the year’s best indie offerings – one that is elevated further by the sharp eye of Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano). Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff in ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’Viewers who are expecting an adaptation of the short story or a remake of the earlier film production will find that this iteration of Walter Mitty is almost entirely new.
As a result, some viewers will be surprised to discover that playing a convincing and relatable everyman, rather than an over-the-top cartoon character, is fully within the actor’s repertoire. Stiller’s take on Walter Mitty isn’t going to win him an Academy Award nomination but there’s a subtlety and sincerity in his execution that is right at home with the film’s enjoyable balance of humor, philosophizing, and drama. It’s a convincing performance, one that Stiller should be proud to include in his filmography – and one that should keep audiences rooting for Walter throughout his transformative journey.

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