Frozen, American Hustle, August: Osage County, Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit. So many blockbusters hit theaters between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I could barely keep up! It seems that through all the commotion over these big-name films, one lesser-known gem slipped through the cracks of publicity. If you ask me, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is January’s best-kept secret and one of few films out there worth your money.
The story focuses on Walter Mitty, a hopeless daydreamer and ordinary man whose life revolves around his tedious work processing photographs at Life magazine. When Walter loses the photograph intended to grace the cover of Life’s final print edition, he throws himself into a wild journey to chase down the famous Sean O’Connell, professional photographer and explorer. In doing so, Walter hopes to catch the eye of his office crush, Cheryl Melhoff, and find the quintessential meaning of life.
From the trailers I had seen beforehand, I thought I had this movie pegged: boring man finds love and adventure. The end. Instead, I found myself pleasantly surprised at every turn. I would definitely call it a drama, but there’s still a quiet comedy to it that only Ben Stiller can pull off – and he nails it. At times the plot can be a tad slow-moving and still, but I think that’s part of its charm. It forces you to digest what’s happening step by step.
To my surprise, Walter Mitty had no sexual content, minimal swearing and very little background music, save for the heroic ballads that fuel his short-lived daydreams. For me, this lack of distraction really highlighted the moral’s significance: no matter how ordinary, you are worth living for. Like the pastor who whispers through the most important piece of the sermon, Walter Mitty’s message doesn’t rely on pageantry – it relies purely on character and plot, the grit of all great stories.
Overall, the movie had the same uplifting, happy end that I anticipated it would, but this one really is all about the journey. Although a few of the exaggerated personalities seemed a bit too eccentric to be true, like Walter’s overly-degrading boss, the contrasting characters offer a very realistic portrayal of day-to-day life, one that isn’t overly sugar-coated or glamorized. Whether you’re looking for a few laughs, some inspiration or simply a time-filler, you’ll be hard-pressed to walk away unsatisfied.
If you have the time and a few extra bucks, I strongly recommend heading to the theaters before this movie is gone. Since it is a slower, quieter film, Walter Mitty may not capture the attention of younger audiences, so a sitter might be a good investment. Even if you don’t catch it in theaters, you’ll want to add Walter Mitty to your upcoming to-watch list – and that’s no secret.