But as revolutionary and as advanced as we have come throughout that time, there have been disadvantages in terms of the way people communicate and express themselves. For one thing, there are times where such escapism and the like can make us forget who we are as people, where we are, and what we are doing, as well as who we are around. That can often be due to the things or thoughts we allow to occupy our minds.
Walter Mitty began as a popular short story by James Thurber in the New Yorker in 1939. It centers on a day (or, rather, an afternoon) in the life of a habitual daydreamer who takes his wife on a trip to town. Throughout that time, he imagines himself as a Navy commander, a surgeon, an interrogated serial killer, an Air Force pilot, and a civilian shot down by a firing squad. (You'd have to read the story to understand the motivation behind these specific "characters".) Mitty can't help but escape into, and spend more time in, the heroic fantasies that counter his otherwise mundane life.
He has since become a popular character type in fiction and culture, illustrated in such characters as Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy (how could we ever forget him chasing the Red Baron?) and even songs by such artists as Alabama and Brian Setzer. The character's first on-screen portrayal was by Danny Kaye in a 1947 film version (which Thurber, reportedly, disapproved of). Ben Stiller has now taken the reigns, as both the title character and director, in a very loosely-based adaptation of Thurber's short story. In this version, Mitty works as a negative analyst at LIFE magazine, which is making its transition from negative film to digital in today's techno era. For the final magazine issue, Mitty has been given a negative by renowned photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn). Unfortunately and mysteriously, the negative is missing. But with the encouragement of a fellow co-worker and single mother named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), Mitty sets off on what becomes a real adventure, beyond anything he ever imagined.
Walter's "understanding" of life has been limited to no further than his city office job, his family, and his dreams. At times on his adventure(s), he even wrestles with what is real and what is imaginary. And not just daydreaming as opposed to living. This theme is also expressed in photographic images we see as opposed to what we (choose to) believe. (On a side note, there's a similar theme in that some moments are best kept to oneself personally or only to a few, rather than "captured" and shared with others.)
|Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig|
Even though the film is marketed as a comedy/drama, there are different genres and styles represented as well, including superhero-esque action, global thrills and adventure, and romance. (Modest romance, to be exact.) Some have criticized Stiller's version for spending most of its time in visual spectacle. There are times where it does seems to jump a bit too fast (like a random stream of consciousness, no different than Walter's point of view). But whatever the film lacks in substance, it makes up for in its thematic elements, including its drama, its imagery, and its sense of adventure and reality.