The Secret Life of Walter Mitty parents guide

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Parent Review

This film features impressive cinematography, creative images and unique locations. What I enjoyed most about this remake is the way it celebrates the wisdom of age and places people above technology.

Overall B+

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) may appear to be the timid sort on the outside, yet in his imagination he's a daredevil adventurer. But when a real life crisis arises, Walter has to decide if he will leave his daydreams and face his worst nightmares.

Violence B-
Sexual Content B+
Profanity B-
Substance Use C

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence.

Movie Review

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a daydreaming human anachronism. He works in the “negative assets” department of Life magazine—meaning he keeps track of the photographic negatives in the publications extensive archives. Of course digital snappers don’t submit images on film, so activity in his department has been somewhat slow. That leaves Walter extra time to languish within a fanciful secret world, which of late has featured a newly hired coworker named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig). Sadly in truth, the recently divorced woman has barely noticed Walter’s existence.

The other reality Walter hasn’t recognized is how much his profession has changed in the past two decades. The once prominent periodical is about to print its last edition before undergoing a metamorphous into an online publication… with a fraction of its staff. The layoffs are under the direction of hotshot Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), a smartphone-toting taskmaster who seems to love watching anxious staffers scurry like ants after he has kicked their hill.

Typically Walter is buried deep below the action in the archives room, but when noted, old-school photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) submits a roll of film for the magazine’s final cover, all eyes are on the seasoned employee to produce the picture. It is an easy assignment—until Walter’s assistant Hernando (Adrian Martinez) removes the celluloid coil from its protective can and discovers the key image is missing. Determined to protect his reputation and recover the lost negative, Walter sets out to find the elusive O’Connell and the whereabouts of the missing frame of film.

This version of James Thurber’s famous short story bears little resemblance to Danny Kaye’s 1947 portrayal of the bumbling man with a chronic imagination. Directed by the lead actor, the 2013 movie thankfully also contains little of the edgy content often found in other movies Ben Stiller has starred in (such as Meet the Fockers and Zoolander). Raising the bar even further, this Walter Mitty features impressive cinematography, creative images (a short sequence of Walter making his way through airport security is particularly memorable) and unique locations (Iceland being in the forefront).

Parents of older children or teens interested in seeing the film won’t find a lot of reasons to say no. A pretend fistfight between Walter and his boss is depicted with some bloody injuries, along with a real, frightening encounter with a shark. Remarks about strippers and a few mild profanities are heard. And a drunken helicopter pilot insists on flying after guzzling down another huge glass of brew. (This portrayal may be of particular concern because the comedy of the scene belittles the seriousness of the situation.)

What I enjoyed most about the remake is the way it celebrates the wisdom of age, and places people above technology. Like the photographic film it enshrines, the story tries to capture the shadow of a disappearing way of life, as seen through Mitty’s rose-colored glasses.

Directed by Ben Stiller. Starring Ben Stiller, Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Patton Oswalt. Running time: 114 minutes. Theatrical release December 25, 2013. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty here.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Parents Guide

This movie is based on a short story by James Thurber.

How is technology presented in this film? Why do some people maintain a sentimental attachment to former technologies (in this case, photographic film versus digital images)? Can you think of other former devices that are making a comeback due to sentimental or perceived lost benefits?

Are Walter’s daydreams a blessing or curse? Do they motivate him or hold him back? Do you daydream? Do you think it’s a good use of imagination or a time wasting distraction? Here’s an interesting article on how you may benefit from daydreams.

How many product placements did you spot in this film? Why do moviemakers use these marketing ploys in the productions?

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