The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Rated: PG

It doesn’t seem often lately that there are movies I actually get excited to see. I’m not entirely sure what Hollywood’s problem is in that department, but I think it at least partly has to do with all of the sequels that have come out over the past few years. I’m pretty sure the other part has to do with the fact that original ideas seem to be a rarity these days. That aside, I was honestly excited to see this movie. I even went so far as to write down both the theater and Blu Ray release dates. I very rarely do that, and it seems like most of the time whatever I’ve written down turns out to be a disappointment. Luckily for me The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was well worth the wait.

                Walter Mitty is the negative assets manager (he deals with photo negatives) at the soon to be digital only Life Magazine. As an escape from his hum-drum life he spends most of his time daydreaming; creating elaborate fantasies in which he does things he’d never do in real life. The company brings in corporate transitions manager Ted to handle the downsizing and he gives Walter the task of choosing a photo that will be the“quintessence” of Life for the magazine’s final print cover. But when Sean O’Connell, the magazine’s star photographer, sends Mitty the negatives for the final magazine with the cover shot missing, Walter’s life becomes a real adventure as he goes on a quest to track down the missing negative and Sean.

                As is often the case these days, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a remake. The original movie came out in 1947 and starred Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. I haven’t yet seen that version, but from what I could find out about it, its similar to this most recent version. Both versions are based on the 1939 short story of the same name by James Thurber.What I found to be quite funny about the original movie is that the producers consulted with Thurber extensively, yet used almost none of his recommendations. Thurber was so angered by this that he wrote a letter to Life Magazine expressing his disgust. Of course there’s no way that I could know for certain, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that’s what prompted Ben Stiller and the writers of the most recent version to use Life in the movie. I was also able to find a copy of Thurber’s story online for free. If you’d care to read it go to Google and do a search for The New Yorker, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s the first result that will come up. 

        Another interesting thing I found is a radio version of the 1947 movie. It’s half an hour long, but also stars Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. If you’d care to listen to that go to https:/ On the right side of the page is a box you can scroll through with all of their radio shows listed. Walter Mitty is number 316. This radio version is much closer to the original Thurber story than either movie is and has a few good laughs in it.

                All in all The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is closer to the original movie than the original story, but I think Steve Conrad did a fantastic job with this updated version. Of course some liberties were taken to both make the story longer (the original story is only a few pages long) and make it more relevant to the times, but I don’t think that ruined it in any way. The only thing about this movie I didn’t like is that Conrad threw in a weak romantic side story between Mitty and a coworker named Cheryl. That wasn’t the main focus of the movie though, and so it can be ignored for the most part. This is an uplifting movie for those of us who can get carried away by our own imaginations, or just want to escape from the real world for 2 hours.

                The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is rated PG, was directed by Ben Stiller and stars Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott and Sean Penn. It is available now on BluRay, DVD and digital download.