Imagine for a second working at Life magazine, where the greatest events in history are recorded in the most vivid detail, and you are the guy that meticulously handles every image as they come in from the field. When Walter can’t find film negative 25 from Sean O’Connell, the one that is to be the quintessence of all his photos and the final one for Life Magazine, he is encouraged to go on an adventure and find it by his love interest, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig).
Walter and Sean O’Connell have never met in person, yet they share a close friendship, working together for 16 years.
On a side note, the scene with Walter in Greenland and the drunk helicopter pilot is so good! Probably one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when Walter finally catches up with Sean O’Connell. When Walter asks O’Connell about negative 25 and finds out he had it but may have accidentally thrown it away, O’Connell doesn’t blow up at him like you would expect.
I know some of the great quotes in the movie come directly from James Thurber’s original short story. Walter Mitty is a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller, who also directs, looks great, lacks heart. If you love the Zoolander star and don’t mind that this movie generates the occasional weak smile rather than huge laughs, then this self-indulgent, CGI-heavy Stiller world tour will make you happy indeed. Mitty was the central character of the 1947 fantasy starring Danny Kaye, based on the very brief James Thurber-penned short story in The New Yorker; the name has become synonymous with dreamers of this world. Now Stiller takes on the tale, directing from a script by Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man).
Risking his skin in his daydreams is a good antidote for the real danger lurking in the magazine’s halls. Mitty’s daydreams are also sparked by his secret crush on co-worker, Cheryl (a pleasingly low-key Kristen Wiig).
With the final issue of Life about to go into production, Mitty has been tasked with printing the cover photo from a negative sent by reclusive and rebellious superstar photographer and perpetual globetrotter, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).
But the precious negative has gone missing and finding it is the only thing standing between Mitty and a layoff notice. The calculated layering of adventures and heroics, all involving long frame-filling close-ups of Mitty looking pensive or wide-eyed, show a variety of computer-generated splendours that don’t seem to be in service of anything.

Stiller’s relentless focus on his own character leaves others poorly realized and the heart of the story pales amid the spectacle.
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He works in the basement of Life Magazine’s corporate office, processing film negatives in what appears to be a massive, windowless, and well-organized darkroom. Like many men, he seems to be struggling with the inner desire to be something or do something significant with his life and fantasizes about himself as a hero or lover. When he comes back to the office he sees Sean’s picture and imagines Sean slowly summoning him to come into the adventurous world. I like to think that to Walter, O’Connell is something of a father figure rather than just a legend of a man living the life that Walter wished he lived. Olafur Darri Olafsson (yeah I don’t know how to pronounce his name either) plays the pilot and does such an excellent job.
He’s parked out on a ridge in the Himalayas waiting for the sight of the elusive snow leopard, known locally as the “Ghost Cat”. When Walter asks what it was I think O’Connell has already decided to keep it as one of those “in the moment” pictures. Equally ludicrous is the implausible trade off of the aforementioned toy for a long board, seemingly to justify a scene of Mitty skating down a mountain; his skater back story in itself highly unlikely given his current lifestyle. When his job, along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world, embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.
He updates it in sort-of fashion with reclusive Mitty, now a bachelor, toiling in the decidedly archaic photo negative department of Life magazine.
Corporate hatchetmen (led by a snide Adam Scott) have landed and are showing much of the staff the door as Life is repurposed as a web-only publication. In a flash, the coffee room at work falls away as Mitty swaps his nerdy, putty-coloured windbreaker for vibrant mountain climbing gear and a handsomely ice-covered beard to woo Cheryl by fantastic means.
A The Curious Case of Benjamin Button gag is the most obvious example, dropped in for no other reason than to show it can be done.
Deeper messages than chasing your dreams are lost to the slick, ad campaign-style bigness of the pursuit. If we didn’t have the ability to experience his fantasy filled “zoning out” spells along with him, he would seem to be a pretty dull guy.

However, he doesn’t just have those thoughts while mowing the grass or on a quiet weekend when he is alone, he has them all the time, mentally and physically checking out in the middle of conversation.
However, for himself, he left behind the dreams of that skateboarding kid, and worse, felt a wound from his father’s death that he didn’t know how to deal with. I believe we can begin to see how Walter’s imagination could get away from him, but more importantly, I think it is something many men can relate to, though to a lesser degree. Walter Mitty is a guy that lost himself when he lost his dad and his adventures are a way for him to find himself and deal with the death of his father. But the exercise is without heart or genuine emotion, a missing element that constantly niggles as the film progresses. There is a part of him that is still trying to live out the life that his dad would have wanted. While helping his mom move into a new place his sister finds an unused backpack of his with an equally unused travel journal. Instead of living that life like Sean O’Connell (the adventurous photographer played by Sean Penn), he lives it in his imagination.
Then another thing happens, which is just such good writing: O’Connell doesn’t take the picture. Not only is the movie fun to watch, the story is chocked full of subtle but deep sub-stories that leave you thinking about its meaning, both for yourself and the characters, long after you’ve watched it.
He says that when the moment is just right he wants to stay in it without the distraction of the camera.
In an age where everything is shared in an instant, those personal moments can become fewer and fewer. We get the impression that his dad was pretty awesome; taking him to skateboarding competitions and giving him a mohawk.

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