What can a mousy day dreamer teach you about life?
Quite a bit, actually.
Last night I watched Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with my family. The story is inspired by James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same title, although the setting is contemporary and many of the central character’s circumstances are different.
In Thurber’s story, hen-pecked Walter Mitty spends an afternoon running mundane errands with and for his wife, all the while imagining himself in more exciting and dangerous situations.
The new movie sets an unmarried but lonely Walter (Ben Stiller) in an otherwise unremarkable supporting role at LIFE magazine in its closing days. The new Walter gets pushed around at work yet elaborately imagines himself pushing back. But, of course, he still gets pushed around.
Until Walter realizes he plays a critical part in publishing LIFE’s final print issue. The courage that Walter has always pictured becomes real and he begins to do things he’s never done–or that he would have done. Walter continues to understand, however, that his adventures have a purpose: he does not become a self-absorbed thrill-junkie. Rather, his risk-taking is done solely in the service of others.
The themes of sacrifice, vulnerability, and risk will resonate with anyone who’s read Julien Smith’s The Flinch, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, or seen Brené Brown’s TED talks. I found the music and cinematography to be delightful as well.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a fun, engaging, inspiring, and worthwhile use of two hours. Check it out.