A day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, he 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.
Ben Stiller is a man who is generally known for his comedic starring roles in films, but imagine if The Cable Guy had been better received. He wouldn't have put aside his directing ambitions to star in There's Something About Mary, the film which thrust him into the spotlight. Perhaps then we would have more opportunities to see Stiller's directorial style at work, as opposed to only 5 times in the span of an entire career, and we would have more films that impress like this one.
Walter is a character many of us can relate to. Stuck in a job going nowhere, trying to make ends meet, living an unremarkable life, fantasizing about wooing his crush in remarkable ways. While Walter's journey to find a lost film negative may seem like a poor excuse for an adventure, it means the world to Walter, who has been handling film negatives for 16 years and through those years, has seen first-hand the beauty captured by Sean O'Connell. So, when the negative which Sean claims captures the Quintessence of Life Magazine is found to have gone missing, it's believable that Walter would do whatever he can to find that missing negative.
Ben Stiller does a good job as the eponymous hero, but does an even more impressive job directing, doing a wonderful job at handling the dream sequences alongside the real life moments without making it all feel disjointed. There are times when Stiller falls back on obvious laughs, but these don't deter from the good job he does. Providing beautiful visuals and great directorial techniques, Stiller proves to have a bright future ahead, which is well earned to anybody that makes a fight scene over a Stretch Armstrong so thrilling.
Adam Scott manages to pull off unlikable jerks well and did a good job here, while Kristen Wiig was also good in a more reserved role than she usually takes on and Sean Penn does a good job in his cameo of Sean O'Connell.
The weakest portions of the film are in the beginning, when it spends its time setting up Mitty and his story, only really picking up after he sets off on his adventure. While the product placement may seem a bit much, especially by the point where Mitty encounters a Papa Johns in Iceland, it ties in to the story well that the Papa Johns has a significant relevance to Mitty. But there really is no defending a very awkward and dated reference to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty proves what great talent Ben Stiller has both as a serious actor and as a director, managing to excel at both. An ambitious, relatable and heartfelt tale that provides one of the sweetest magazine covers of this year.