I know, it's such a glowing summary above, but I think I'm speaking the truth. There are very few movies I own that aren't superhero-related, Star Wars-related, or complete fantasy like LOTR and Narnia, and this is one of them. This movie was worth going to the store for and picking up. As I'm writing this review actually, the movie is playing in the background.
To summarize, Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty, a normal, average man who goes through the motions of every day and works as a negative asset manager for the Life magazine. Though his life is almost excruciatingly normal, he daydreams and fantasizes on a regular basis. He fantasizes about jumping into a building that's about to blow to rescue a dog, he fantasizes about winning the girl that he has a crush on at work, and pretty much just about anything that we can only see get accomplished in movies. One particular daydream when he's battling a manager that's going to transition the Life magazine from physical form to electronic form is a fun and crazy scene.
Like I said, the Life magazine is being transitioned from physical form to digital form, which threatens to put Walter Mitty out of a job. When the final cover picture for the last physical Life magazine is missing, Walter is thrust into an adventure to find the elusive photographer Sean O' Connell who may have the picture, and as he's doing so, finds the meaning of life.
I know, sounds dramatic, but it's really good. The movie promotes a very strong and positive message about the meaning of life and what the difference is between living your life and simply existing, and we see it through Walter's own transition from simply existing day by day working to traveling around the world and experiencing things that he was only able to daydream about. For me personally, I've done my own fair share of daydreaming, so I was able to relate to Walter that way. And come on, let's be honest, we've all daydreamed once in a while about winning our crush over. An average, ordinary man who just exists to do his job every day and only gets to dream about the crazy stuff he would love to do is relatable to me.
Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty with a great sense of awkwardness. Walter Mitty does his job well, but he keeps himself fairly isolated from the rest of the world and lives in his own little one instead. He's normally unable to make eye contact with other people, and doesn't talk to other people often. He has almost no friends, and wishes he can win one of his female co-workers over, but instead of trying to win her over face-to-face, he would rather try sending her a 'wink' on eHarmony. When he's pushed to look for the cover picture, he's forced to leave behind everything he knows to go into the unknown.
Sean Penn plays Sean O' Connell, the mysterious photographer that no one at the Life office has actually been able to see, including Walter Mitty. When Walter, and we as the audience, finally get to see him, Sean Penn plays the character with a subtle, dry sense of humor mixed with a deep, philosophical flare that makes his one scene alone worth watching the movie for. He has some of the best lines in the whole movie.
Though the movie does tend to drag a little bit at times, my attention was typically kept by the phenomenal scenery and the nicely balanced humor. Walter visits places like Greenland and Iceland, which shows off some truly beautiful scenery and backgrounds. In a way, the movie works as a travel guide for traveling to different places, so even if you don't become a fan of the story, maybe this movie will motivate you to do some traveling. One particular visual moment that really stands out is an ash fall from a volcano eruption while Walter and another are desperately trying to drive away from it.
The look of the movie has a dream-like quality. Walter's surroundings have a vibrant and colorful variety to it, so it almost looks as if Walter's entire life is a dream rather than just his fantasies.
Without giving too much away, the story is rather basic and straightforward, but the most engaging thing about it is Walter's development from a man that just simply exists into a man who's simply living. It's an inspirational movie that I believe is worth watching at least once. On top of that, it can also be a fun family film too. Being that it's PG, it's one of Ben Stiller's tamest movies. It may not be as exciting as a Marvel movie or action-packed, but I think it has its own special value that very few superhero movies can represent which makes it worth seeing.