Ben Stiller, who also directed the film, plays Walter Mitty, a negative assets manager at Life Magazine who often daydreams of fantastic adventures and heroic escapades; tending to withdraw into his own little bubble world of fantasies. It is his way of escaping his otherwise anonymous life, in which he feels invisible and sometimes ridiculed by his other more arrogant-headed co-workers. He has a school-boy crush on his coworker, Cheryl who works very closely with his photojournalist friend Sean O’Connell with his submissions, where one day he sends him a package containing his latest negatives and a wallet as a gift in appreciation of Mitty’s work. The company seems to be under threat along with their jobs and it is at this point something is inspired in Walter which is where the story starts to take off and he begins taking action in the real world and a global adventure embarks!
Noticing that the package has a special photograph and that this is missing, he is forced to stall the arrogant corporation-transition manager Mr Hendricks who handles the downsizing and try to find this negative, using the others as clues. Here his journey then takes him: flying to Greenland (where O’Connell the photographer he is trying to track appears to be) in which there are funny scenes of a deserted bar, a large drunk depressive karaoke-singing dude and beer shoe pitchers that are huge!
Wow- flying with drunken pilots, swimming with sharks… his life is starting! The sailors remember O’Connell and after sharing cake, he discovers a clue in the wrapping paper, with the journey now taking him to Iceland. It is in Iceland where O’Connell has gone to photo the volcano, but the eruption means he can’t find him yet, so he has to go back to New York immediately after getting a text telling him to do so. Walter is then fired and disheartened Cheryl seems reconciled with her estranged husband, so throws the wallet away when visiting his mum.
He then finds a new clue to continue his hunt for him and goes on busy buses in Afghanistan, hangs with some rebels there sharing his mum’s cake and finds O’Connell in the Himalayas trying to photograph a rare snow leopard. Asking about the missing negative, O’Connell explains the message about taking a closer look was literal and the negative was in the wallet he seemed to chuck away. Oh dear! They play soccer with some locals and he flies to LA only to be arrested by airport security. The only person he knows there is Todd, the representative at eHarmony, who he has kept in touch with through his adventures. They sit and talk briefly over pastry and he visits his mum again where he then discovers his mum kept the wallet. Without looking at it, he takes it back to Life Magazine saying it’s the one for the final issue, and tells Hendricks off for disrespecting the company staff that made the magazine so honoured.
This film was very inspiring in an off-the-beat kind of way. It’s the second-film adaptation of Thurber’s 1939 short story after a 1947 version film. The ending is very sweet, as they see the final issue of the magazine on the newstand with its cover saluting the staff especially Walter and Cheryl who hold hands. He might not have a job anymore, but he has memories of an adventure to last a lifetime and new hope with a lovely person. Isn’t that what life’s about?
4 Stars ★★★★✰