Before stepping into the dazzling fantasy world director-star Ben Stiller conjures up in his film adaptation of James Thurber's classic 1939 short story, know this. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is eons away from the raucous farce of Stiller's last directing effort, 2008's Tropic Thunder. Stiller goes gentle into the good daydreams of Walter, a photo editor at Life magazine who finds it easier to imagine himself into the adventure photos on his desk than actually living them. Then he gets his big chance. Heading to Greenland to track down star photographer Sean O'Connell (a standout Sean Penn), Walter gets to climb mountains, splash with sharks and skateboard into a spewing volcano. Co-worker and dreamgirl Cheryl (a lovely, low-key Kristen Wiig) eggs him on. But Walter is in crisis. Digital has made him a dinosaur at work. And reality has far outstripped his make-believe. In his uniquely funny and unexpectedly tender movie, Stiller takes us on a personal journey of lingering resonance.
From The Archives Issue 1198: December 19, 2013