"To see the world, things dangerous to come to. To see behind walls, draw closer. To find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life."
That quote is the central theme of this film directed by Ben Stiller and adapted by Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness) from James Thurber's short story, which actually is repeated throughout the film and can even be read during various scenes. It is a feel good message about achieving your goals and finding your purpose in life, but at the same time it's repeated so many times that the film feels forced and preachy at times making it loose its value. This is without a doubt Stiller's most ambitious film, but unfortunately it becomes predictable and instead of focusing on the adventures it becomes a preachy film about the cliched phrase "Stop dreaming, Start living." My main complaint however has to do with the pacing of the film which is really unbalanced during the first 30 minutes where the story seemed to lack identity and compelling characters. It really suffers from some sort of identity crisis at first not really understanding what kind of film it wants to be. The romantic relationship didn't work very well either, and Kristen Wiig was underused. Her character didn't have much depth and she seemed too restrained in her role. On a positive note, the strongest point of the film was without a doubt the cinematography which was beautiful and once the story becomes a globe trotting adventure going through Greenland, Iceland, and Mount Everest it really picks up and becomes escapist entertainment. By the end it's difficult not to leave with a warm and optimist heart because the story ends up being quite inspirational. The film may not be the modern fairytale it tries so hard to be, but it does have some fun and entertaining moments.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) has worked for Life magazine over twenty years as one of the main photo developers, but now that the company has decided to go digital many of the employees feel their jobs are hanging on the line. Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott) has been assigned to manage the company's transition and isn't too impressed with Walter once they meet and he begins to day dream and zoom out during the middle of a conversation. Walter does this a lot since he is bored with his life and dreams about doing things he would never do in real life, like speaking to his co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) whom he has a crush on. Walter's life takes an interesting turn when he doesn't find one of the films that his elusive photographer (played by Sean Penn) has sent him which is supposed to be the cover of the magazine's last issue. This leads Walter to travel across the globe trying to locate him in order to save his job, and that is when his true adventure really begins. No more dreaming, it's time to live.
Ben Stiller gives an entertaining performance, but as I mentioned before the romantic relationship between his character and Wiig's didn't really work too well. I hated Adam Scott in this film and thought that his character was too cartoonish and over the top. His scenes weren't funny, they felt awkward and forced like many other moments of the film. Shirley MacLaine and Patton Oswalt on the other hand gave great performances and stood out in their supporting roles. Patton was probably the highlight of the film for me despite not having much screen time. It was also interesting to see Sean Penn deliver a comedic role in a Ben Stiller film considering the hilarious scene in Stiller's previous film, Tropic Thunder, involving the never go full retard scene referencing his role in I Am Sam. There were several funny moments despite some of the misses and the beautiful scenery makes this film worth checking out. The day dreaming sequences didn't work very well for me, although I laughed really hard at the Benjamin Button one. Despite being uneven it is an entertaining and optimistic film. Be warned there is a lot of product placement in this movie, but I didn't have a problem with all the commercializing since I think it is part of life anyways. I guess in the end the long development and producing issues the film went through hurt its potential.