Walter Mitty’s life – Utterly Interesting

Walter Mittys life - Utterly Interesting

Sean Pruett-Jones, Staff Reporter

Meet Walter Mitty: a negative producer at Life Magazine, living alone in his apartment that he walks to through a dreary, gray hallway, where his overly quirky sister brings him cake for the birthday that he probably forgot he even had. On an average day, he’s created life size gold statues of him and the girl he loves, leapt into a building seconds away from exploding due to a gas leak and saved everybody, including a dog, along with inventing a functioning robotic leg for the aforementioned dog on his way down the stairs, and surfed along the streets of Manhattan on chunks of pavement using stop signs as ski poles. Yeah, just another average day.


No, that doesn’t sound right. Ah yes, because none of those things ever happened and they never will with Walter Mitty. All of those things did technically happen, though they were only confined to Walter’s imagination and daydreams.

Walter (Ben Stiller) is that average guy (you know, the guy you see at that office around the water cooler and that one other place that you can’t quite recall.  I think I may have seen him at the coffee shop once or that could’ve been that other guy… huh) who reminds us all too much of ourselves. From the get-go, we see him in a situation that we all have been in, some way or another; in his case, he’s mustering up the courage to send a “wink” to a special someone on If that ill-fated endeavor didn’t ruin his day, missing the train to work directly after might help. No matter who you are, you will find some of yourself in Walter Mitty and what he goes through on a daily basis, and you’ll root for him within the first few seconds of the film’s start without even realizing it. He spends lots of his time daydreaming, which eventually subsides by the end of the film, because by then, he no longer has need for them. They were certainly providing more variables to draw you into Walter’s life, because we’ve all been in his shoes, where we daydream about punching that jerk at work in the face, or having a poetry falcon to impress the ladies, or being a noteworthy person.

The story of the movie is a fairly simple one, for the meat of the movie comes from the charm of seeing Walter Mitty stumble and grow as a person – he has to track down Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), who sent in a picture negative (Negative 25) for the final issue cover of Life Magazine, but it got lost.  Walter Mitty must track him down across the world to get it back. Apart from that, he aims to impress his love interest (Kristen Wiig), which never fails to be delightfully awkward and charming. However, his priority is to find that negative, because failure to do so means being sacked from his already changing job.

It’s on his journey across the world, going to places like Greenland and Iceland (shot on location) where we really become part of Walter Mitty’s life and his struggles. The film revolves around his character arc, and we get to learn about his past, and the fact that he was a skateboarder, a Papa John’s worker, and other occupations ill-fitting for Walter Mitty as he is today. These all come into play later on his adventure, and while the symbolism is fairly easy to discern, it’s charm never falters because of it.

The one thing I can’t stress enough about this movie is it’s subtlety. It’s a funny movie, without a doubt, but never laugh out loud hilarious, because it doesn’t try to be. It’s comfortable with it’s own simplicity and never comes off as “look at this great writing and great camera and love me for it”, it just invites you into Walter’s life and embraces you. If you decide to refuse that invitation, then you’re the only one who will miss out. Across Walter’s journey, you’re going to meet some people. You never learn their names and you won’t care, because that’s not the point. An Icelandic fisher who loves American lingo, a man from Greenland who warns you to never cheat on a girl in a country with only eight people, a frantic man attempting to say “eruption”…  I never learned their names, yet their images remain in my mind, and they helped Walter on his journey and helped him grow. The movie, from a technical standpoint, shines brightest. With a perfectly chosen soundtrack including “Major Tom”, and great performances, everything is believable and down-to-earth. The film’s best points, however, come from the wonderful camera work. It felt like two tablespoons of traditional filming, a cup of Wes Anderson, and an egg. Put in the oven and bake for 2 hours, and then you’ll get a lovely, golden-brown, wild ride through several wondrous places on Earth. Tastes best eaten right out of the oven (seasoning optional). Brilliant shots around the Himalayas, a joyous ride down an Icelandic street, and Walter’s journey from the Life building to the airport are all moments that still resonate within me because of how genius the visuals were.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a poignantly powerful movie. Let me tell you, it really is. You might think so for a different reason than I did or you might not at all. I can’t tell you which to choose, but I can give you my point of view on Walter Mitty and his character arc. While not being completely original (there have definitely been movies about under-the-radar guys becoming boisterous and fun by the end) Walter Mitty takes the cake as being one of the best. It’s not a perfect movie, but you won’t care. In fact, you shouldn’t care. This movie, as I’ve said, isn’t pretentious or boasting. It just wants you to enjoy yourself and come to love Walter. It doesn’t throw the nameless characters under the rug, they understand their part in the story that is Walter Mitty. Come settle in, you’ll be glad you did, and you certainly won’t want to leave anytime soon.