Forget Kevin, we need to talk about Walter Mitty. There’s something very wrong with him in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But before we can begin the conversation, I’m going to warn you there will be spoilers in this article, lots and lots of spoilery spoilers. So if you’re the kind of person who voluntary clicks on articles that sound like they’re plot revealing, but then freaks out when it reveals parts of the plot, click that X in the top right corner and don’t look back.
And now that it’s just us normals in here, we can get back to the discussion at hand. So Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) has a great job. You wouldn’t know that from his wardrobe or from the fifty shades of grey used in the film, but it’s true. Not only does he have a full time job in print media in 2013, but he has an important job. He handles the photos at LIFE Magazine – which even I, a millennial, know is a prestigious job to have. After all, LIFE is all about the photos. Are there even words in that magazine? I don’t know.
However, as you probably guessed from the title of the movie, Walter has a secret. And it’s nothing cool like “I can turn into green slime” or “I’m a prince trapped in a beast’s body.” His secret is that he fantasizes about his life being different. Sure, sure, we all do that. But Walter takes your five-second fantasies to the next level. Not only are they in real-time, but they can happen at any time. Including important times.
Which brings us to the movie’s plot. LIFE Magazine gets bought out by horrid people who want to shut down the print magazine and bring it into the digital age. (Yes, yes, I know, this seems a little 2003, but just go with it.) Adam Scott plays the big bad corporate man in charge of deciding who should stay and who should go.
Naturally everyone at the company reacts by being on their best behavior and showing how useful they can be as employees in a digital age. Except Walter. Every time he’s around Adam Scott, he zones out. Including, but not limited to the time that Adam Scott asks him what he does at the company. While he’s off in fantasy land, everyone’s just sitting there starring at him. From what we can see, it’s a solid few minutes of Walter just standing in place like an idiot with his mouth slightly agape.
Look at photo above. That’s him in day dream mode. That’s also him in rude mode. It’s generally accepted in offices that you can’t just stand in front of the coffee machine. Especially in the morning.
I get that we’re supposed to sympathize with Walter Mitty and his shitty situation. But I don’t. One because ice runs through my veins. And two because he’s not making a great impression on his new boss. When Adam Scott goes through the list at the end of the day of who to fire, it won’t be hard to check off the guy who literally cannot hold a conversation.
“Well let’s see, I have Bill who seems to be very responsible and very into the company and I have Todd who’s in every day at 5 A.M…and I have Walter…who seems off. Very, very off.”
Then on top of coming off like a wackjob, Walter disappears from work just a day or two into layoffs. He just runs out of the office (literally) and jumps on a plane to Europe. He’s taking this adventure in a misguided effort to save his job. You see, he needs to find a missing photo and the answer to the missing photo’s location is somewhere in Europe. But dude, you don’t take off from work without telling anyone the plan during layoffs. And even not during layoffs. That called Keeping Your Job: 101 — let your boss know when you’re out of the office as well as OUT OF THE COUNTRY.
Corporate downsizing and pointless adventures aside, quality employees don’t daydream all day, every day. So yeah, even if Walter Mitty didn’t need to be fired, I would’ve recommended it. That realization made it impossible for me to enjoy the rest of the movie. How am I supposed to be support his mission to find this photo and save his job when he’s clearly suffering from real issues. I’d much rather support him in a trip to a mental health center where he can address his daily need for daydreams. And no, I don’t buy boredom as an excuse for drifting away several times a day. Welcome to the world of working, Walter.