Ben Stiller directs himself in the titular role of Walter Mitty in this remake of James Thurber’s fantasy story The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. Mitty works in the photo department of ‘Life’ magazine at the time when print is being cannibalized by ‘suits’ – businessmen who only look at spreadsheets and bottom-lines.
Mitty secretly admires his colleague Cheryl (Kirsten Wiig) but does not have the courage to reveal his feelings. Besides being timid, Mitty is a man of low achievements whose dreams were set aside when he was forced to start working when just a teenager. He lives out his dreams through his fantasies, which allow him to leap off buildings, scale mountains and fight off fiends. Mitty’s inspiration is photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).
But when his career is under threat, Mitty embarks on the greatest adventure of his life — traveling continents, dodging a volcano in Iceland, evading sharks, and doing all the things he once dreamt of.
Expectedly indulgent, Stiller’s version of this story lacks a lightness that you might associate with tales about flights of fancy. But he makes up for that with some visually stunning sequences and styling and quirky characters. He also manages to touch on philosophical questions about unrealized dreams and how life has a way of sidetracking you. I especially liked the references to dying icons like print magazines, Kodak film, and the message that “beautiful things don’t ask for attention”.