Strong enough for a man, yet gentle enough for a woman, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty almost feels like a chick flick. But it’s not a chick flick. Let’s just say this PG-rated film is light entertainment. You can take your mom (or even your grandma) to see this film and be assured she will walk out happy.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a shy, wimpy guy with an amazing fantasy life. That fantasy life is depicted hilariously in several episodes in the first half of the film. The director of the film, also named Ben Stiller, changes direction in midstream and takes Mitty into outlandish adventures in his real life. (Okay, his on-screen real life.)
Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) is Mitty’s co-worker and romantic interest. She’s involved in Mitty fantasies, as is Mitty’s jerky new boss Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott at his smarmiest). Walter’s mom (Shirley MacLaine) provides her son with support and important guidance. MacLaine, as usual, is excellent and provides another reason to take your mom to this movie.
Maybe the best supporting player is Patton Oswalt as an online dating counselor, whose work as an unseen voice in TSLOWM is as strong as his brief onscreen scene.
Mitty is a photo editor for Life magazine, which is preparing to publish its last issue. Photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) sends Mitty a photo for the cover of that final issue, but Mitty can’t locate the pic anywhere within the package.
The quest to find that photo takes Mitty on a trek to exotic locales, where he does things he’s never imagined. Okay, he has imagined being part of outrageous events, but never thought he’d actually live them.
Stiller is charming as the nerdy nebbish. His adventures, both real and imagined, are fun to watch. Credit goes to director Stiller for giving us a film that looks good and leaves us with a feel good, upbeat ending. Wiig also brings wholesome charm to her role, which is more substantial that the caricature she plays in the current Anchorman film.
To make a solidly entertaining PG-rated movie for a grownup audience is rarely attempted in today’s world of edgy filmmaking and even more rarely achieved. Congrats to Ben Stiller the director and Ben Stiller the actor for delivering a movie that’s fun to watch without all the dirty business.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is sweet and cute. If you can handle that kind of thing, don’t miss it. And take you mother.