|Nice guy Walter (Ben Stiller) is out of step with the new regime|
|Maybe new girl at work Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) and Walter could connect|
The recently released The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not so much a remake of Kaye's 1947 film as it is an update. Both film's depart from James Thurber's The New Yorker 1939 short story, which depicted the dreamy, married (and henpecked) Mitty. Ben Stiller, who both stars as Mitty and directed the film, gives his version of the character an entirely different spin. He is still a dreamer, but he has a backstory that inspires not ridicule, but empathy. The audience gradually learns that after his father died when he was a teenager, young Walter took on the responsibility of providing for his mom (Shirley MacLaine) and sister (Kathryn Hahn). For many years he has been working in the basement photo archives of Life magazine, helping choose the most adventurous images for its covers, frequently provided by globe-trotting and award-winning photojournalist Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn, in a small, but great role, probably one of the calmest, least tortured, most relatable, characters of his career). Life is being dismantled and turned into an online-only magazine by a cadre of bearded, nasty villains led by Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott). Not only is Walter's job in jeopardy, but that of his colleague Hernando (Adrian Martinez) and the new girl at work, who has become the object of his fantasies, single mom Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig).
With a little encouragement from Cheryl, Walter goes on an adventure to track one of Sean's missing images — and the potential final print cover for Life — and his dream world quickly pales in comparison to his own travels. Tracking Sean takes Walter from Greenland to Iceland to Afghanistan, where he not only witnesses such wonders as an erupting volcano, but has the chance to remember his own youthful wild days and dreams. Walter Mitty even has one musical number, a la Danny Kaye — when Walter imagines Cheryl as a troubadour, spurring him on his travels (with more than a little help from David Bowie and his song "Space Oddity.")
|Walter rediscovers some of his forgotten skills in Iceland|
|Walter finally gets to see his "partner" Sean (Sean Penn) in person|