I’m a dreamer. For as long as I can remember, getting lost in fantasies about life, imagined adventures and conversations have helped me through the dull moments. The more advanced my mobile phone has become though, the less time there has been for idle dreaming and the more time I’ve spent actually researching, planning, and getting lost in the depths of the internet rather than my own brain.
Ben Stiller plays a negatives photo expert working for Life magazine. He drifts off into fantasy worlds where he idealizes himself as a romantic and adventure hero. When opportunity strikes, he is able to finally escape his head and engage with the real world in a way that he had missed out on previously, finally becoming the man he hoped he would be but with a humbleness, earnestness, and bravery that differed greatly from his more machismo and grandiose alter egos.
The genuineness with which he partakes in new adventures and the integrity of his missions make his character growth believable even where the circumstances are extreme. His relationships with family, friends, including an E-Harmony customer services representative, and the character Sean, the famous photographer who unwittingly leads Walter out of his shell on a chase for the final Life magazine cover photo, all paint Walter as an extremely lovable character. While the movie barely passes the Bechdel test, love interest Cheryl practically flips the manic pixie dream girl trope on its head. She is tethered to reality by her son, allowing Walter to eventually take on the flighty, exciting role in their interactions.
This was the perfect movie to watch on my first flight to Hong Kong, beginning my Southeast Asia adventure. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty encouraged taking risks, travelling the world, living in the moment, acting spontaneously, and finding bravery within, all with integrity.