I never liked the James Thurber story, nor the 1947 Danny Kaye film. The Kaye film failed because his waking adventure, parallels his over the top daydreams, so it came off as just another daydream. I was still a child when I first viewed it, and it seemed implausible even to my adolescent mind. It was my least favorite Danny Kaye movie ever. As a kid I went to the matinees religiously and enjoyed a lot of Mr. Kaye’s movies, so the problem wasn’t Danny Kaye.
When I heard that there was going to be another incarnation of the Thurber story I cringed. Probably like so many other boomers that had been introduced to the Story of Walter Mitty in high school, I viewed him as the quintessential spineless milksop. He was the kind of guy that would end up in the nut house, because life had beaten him down and caused him to retreat into a permanent fantasy. In other words he was more of a tragic figure than a comic one. For this reason I avoided seeing the 2013 version of The Secret life of Walter Mitty.
Now for something completely different! While Channel surfing I stumbled upon the last part of the Ben Stiller movie; to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ben Stiller for me is a hit or miss proposition, mostly miss, but this film is one of his best and most human portrayals. The movies starts out in predictable Walter Mitty style, with a bunch of ludicrous and childish fantasies. But then something amazing happens, Walter is required to ditch his fantasies and live in the real world.
On a search for a missing negative, Walter follows a series of cryptic clues that take him on a journey, that is as much spiritual as it is physical. With the help of his assistant/fantasy girl, he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime, chasing enigmatic freelance photographer Sean O’Connell. He is forced to look within, for the inner strength that has always eluded him. Along the way he finds courage and confidence and enhances his E-Harmoney profile, no kidding, thats in the plot.
When he finally catches up with O’Connell, he discovers that what he was looking for was at home in the last place that he expected it to be, figuratively and literally. There is symbolism galore in this movie, but it’s symbolism that most of us can understand. I’ve watched this movie at least five times who’d a thunk it!