How can a movie with almost no character development have an impact in an audience? Because in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty we barely know anything about the characters, there’s even a completely stereotypical antagonist, a “bad boss” whose lines are the worst by far in the movie. There are so many elements that make this a mediocre movie about self actualization, yet somehow, the movie manages to hook the audiences and deliver a fun ride with a lot of feel good vibes. How the hell is this possible??? Well, the simple answer lies in the actors, mainly Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, both of them delivering a compelling and warm interpretation of innocent characters facing the end of their life of coworkers while finding each other in the midst of change.
But let’s start from the beginning, shall we? So the movie is about Walter, right? He’s this guy who’s always imagining things in his life, mostly because he’s not having the most amazing of them. So, he’s constantly phasing out into these fantasies of adventures and cool moments, mostly involving his love interest, Cheryl. Things turn bad when, in a double revelation, Walter finds out there’s a photograph missing from top photographer Sean and also, that the magazine he’s working on (Life magazine) it’s gonna close for good. Trying to escape the consequences of not having the picture, mostly fear of change I would argue (because of the dad dying and so on), Walter is driven to go to Sean in the hopes of regaining the picture he desperately needs somehow, this part is kinda confusing.
Beyond that point, the movie becomes a sort of adventure flick, in which Walter has to find his way up to Sean, facing many dangers like sharks in the ocean, an erupting volcano, some warlords in Afghanistan and so on. This journey marks the transition between the frightened and passive Walter from the beginning of the movie and into the more confident (inner child regained) one that comes back only to face his dismissal from the job, not being able to find the picture. In a strange but satisfactory self revelation scene, Walter rises even above Sean, his hero, when realizing that the picture he was looking was placed in a wallet gifted to Walter for his birthday. Walter gets mad and tells Sean that doing this was a bad move, to irresponsible for such an important thing. I guess by this point, the child in Walter (dead when the father died) and the adult Walter are merging into one cohesive unit, signalling the self actualization, right?
So, there you have it, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a movie with a mediocre script and some borderline annoying stereotypical characters rising from the dirt to become some sort of classic, I mean, is not like a cult classic or anything, but is not a bad movie either. What do you think? Have you watched it? was your life completely changed after doing so? I guess no… but you can still try, c’mon!!