I remember watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Danny Kaye when I was a kid and I loved it. Kaye’s Mitty was a daydreaming proof reader who gets embroiled in a real life conspiracy regarding the Dutch crown jewels. It was full of humor and imagination with Kaye delivering another brilliant performance. When I heard Ben Stiller was directing and starring in a remake, I wondered how this would turn out considering crown jewel mysteries were not quite as thrilling as they once were. What I didn’t expect was a total reimagining that became a life affirming movie full of wonder.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a negative assets manager at Life Magazine who constantly dreams of a life of adventure to match the photos he receives from photojournalist Sean O’Connor (Sean Penn). It is announced that the print edition of the magazine is being shutdown in favor of an online only edition and for the final cover O’Connor has sent what he claims is the perfect photograph for it but it has gone missing. So Walter sets out on a globetrotting journey to find O’Connor and get the photo before the final issue goes to print.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is very different from the original film, but that is essentially a good thing. It retains the heart and the sense of wonder but becomes much more of a personal journey of self-discovery than an adventure comedy. Stiller is very good in both the lead role and the director’s seat. His Walter is easily identifiable by most of us as someone who dreams of getting more out of life. He is secretly in love as well but does not have the courage to pursue it. But once he sets out on the real journey he discovers more about himself than he does about the world, his eyes are opened to what is out there and how rich experiences can be. It changes his soul and his outlook. Stiller’s direction is beautiful as well solemnly capturing gorgeous vistas in various locales around the world. He keeps the look minimalist and makes it about the hugeness of the world around Walter and how his mind and heart open along with the world around him and the people he meets. It really is a beautiful film that I hope people give a chance to.
The Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is wonderful, giving the beautiful locations in the film the quality of transfer they deserve. Colors are natural and vibrant, clarity is perfect and detail is amazing. A fantastic soundtrack of music accompanies the film and is beautifully realized in the audio. A great experience on all levels, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a funny, thoughtful, imaginative and life affirming film. Highly recommended.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.