Last winter, I was intrigued by the ads for the upcoming film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, not only for my love of most things Ben Stiller touches, but also because I had a vague memory of the short story penned by James Thurber that I knew I had read way back in my school days. I recently watched the film, now out on DVD, with my husband and our 13-year-old son, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much all three of us enjoyed it.

Thurber’s 1939 short story (only $0.99 on Kindle, at the time of this writing!) just so happened to be included in one of my son’s 8th-grade language arts books, so I read it again all these years later, and was amused by his signature humor and storytelling style. However, the story in the pages of an early 20th century Walter Mitty escaping into fantasies seemingly to drown out the dull aspects of his life (and possibly his nagging wife), didn’t quite match the images of a modern-day Ben Stiller working on the photo covers of LIFE magazine and trying to woo Kristen Wiig’s character. I had no idea what to expect when we finally popped in the DVD.

As I suspected, the story of the film has very little in common with the original short story, beside the fact that Walter Mitty zones out in uncomfortable moments, imagining a life far grander, exotic, and adventurous than his own. The film version of Walter Mitty is not married, and in fact, he has a secret crush on a co-worker, with whom he’s trying to connect on a dating website instead of in real life at the movie’s opening. This reserved man is pushed outside of his quiet routine in both his personal and work lives when an ultra-important film negative goes missing, and he leaves his imagination behind as he strikes out on a series of incredible real-life experiences.

A term that I recently introduced to my son– “suspension of disbelief” — came into play quite a few times while we viewed this movie, but there was a playfulness to the whole story that made it completely acceptable. We especially enjoyed watching particular scenes and trying to figure out exactly when Walter Mitty was switching over to his imagination’s rendering of a moment, and when I read online that each of his daydreams actually foreshadows an event to come, we kept shouting out scenes that connected with each other.

I’m not sure that this film performed as well at the box office as was expected, but I, for one, am disappointed that I didn’t get to see it at the theater, because the beauty of the film would have been even more amazing on the big screen. Portions of the movie were filmed in Iceland, and the scenes are seriously majestic. What a treat it was, as well, to watch a film with our 13 year old that was entertaining for all and quite low on any objectionable material in the form of profanity, violence, and sexual content.

Have you seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? What did you think?

Check out our current giveawaysSubscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or on Facebook.


This post may contain affiliate links. When you use them, you support this site. Thank you!
See our Disclosure Policy for details.

All I Love and Know

Rife with emotions like grief and sorrow, All I Love and Know by Judith Frank (William Morrow, July 2014) takes readers to dark places in the telling of an evocative story of loss, identity, and love. No doubt about it, this novel starts right in the middle of a terrible tragedy, and the aftermath of the cafe bombing that killed Daniel Rosen’s twin brother and his wife seems capable of upturning the lives of everyone in the family. Daniel and his partner Matthew live together in Northhampton, Massachussetts, a town with a supportive gay community. Matthew left behind the NYC scene to settle down with Daniel in this small town, and their days have a comfortable routine. When Matthew receives the call informing him of the bombing in
Read the full article →


Big Whoop!

Young children may not be familiar with the word curmudgeon, but when they meet Mr. Fox in Maxine Lee’s new picture book Big Whoop! (POW!/powerHouse Books, July 2014), they’ll certainly understand the concept. Mr. Fox doesn’t smile, and he doesn’t laugh. He goes about his business with the same unemotional expression on his face all day long. Two of his friends, Roman and Harrison, want to do something about that. These fun-loving pals have a plan to get Mr. Fox to laugh, starting out by donning simple costumes and acting like they’ve turned into zoo animals, but Mr. Fox responds in the same way he always does, by simply stating, “Big whoop,” and continuing on with his reading. Roman and Harrison up their game with each
Read the full article →


Finding Myself in a Book {On Reading}

Not that I needed any convincing, but as a child I remember hearing all the old refrains about reading, repeated with the intent of drawing young people into the world of books. A book is your gateway to the world! Books can really take you places! Escape into reading! While I agree with these simple statements and have certainly traveled much farther in the world through book covers than I ever have in a real life, I can’t say that I find myself motivated to read books for these particular reasons at this point in my life. The stories that appeal to me are more likely to act less as an escape, and more closely like a mirror, causing me to examine myself and my
Read the full article →


Song for Papa Crow

My kids and I can often be seen walking around our yard area trying to pinpoint a songbird up in the trees. There are some calls that are easy for all of us to identify- the American robin’s cheery trill, the blue jay’s jarring calls, and the chickadee’s confident repeating of its own name. Of course, another one most folks can immediately recognize is that of the American crow, though their raucous caws don’t usually convey the same warm feelings as the songbirds. Perhaps after reading Marit Menzin’s picture book Song for Papa Crow, however, children (and parents) may come to have a new appreciation the next time they hear a crow’s caws. In colorful cut-paper illustrations that convey texture even on the two-dimensional page, the story
Read the full article →


I’ve Still Got It… I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It

Just in time for leisurely summer reading comes Jenna McCarthy’s newest book, another collection of humorous stories that explore universal experiences from the perspective of one hilarious woman who has no reservations sharing personal details… that most often make you laugh even harder. In I’ve Still Got It… I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It: Awkwardly True Tales from the Far Side of Forty, McCarthy tackles a variety of topics that people in, or approaching, middle age will understand, even if they’re also in denial about what actually constitutes “middle age.”   Just as in her previous (also super-long-titled) book, If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living With and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married, (linked to my review), her
Read the full article →


The Book of Unknown Americans, a 5-Star Read

What does it mean to be American? From some perspectives, it’s a much-coveted identity, even in the face of disdain from those who may not be so open to sharing the identity. If it is a trait, or a combination of traits, is one simply imbued with it by virtue of being born within the borders of the United States? In Cristina Henríquez’s quiet and unassuming novel, The Book of Unknown Americans, the stories of several members of an immigrant community in Delaware explore the ideas of cultural identity, immigration and assimilation, and the ways in which an outsider status can often be extremely difficult to shed. The Rivera family has arrived in Delaware to seek out an educational environment that will best serve their fifteen-year-old daughter Maribel,
Read the full article →


All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

The book world is abuzz because Jennifer Weiner has a new novel out, though I should probably admit right off that before this, I hadn’t read anything she had written. I know. It seemed like the appropriate time to rectify this book blogger failing. In All Fall Down, Weiner departs a bit from (what I’ve heard to be) her usual lighthearted tone to present a more serious story of family, stress, and addiction. Even with a venture into heavier material, this novel retains a sense of humor, though it edges on the dark side more often than not. From an outsider’s perspective, Allison Weiss’s life is nothing but picture perfect. All the main boxes are checked- attractive and loving husband, adorable young child, McMansion in the suburbs, and
Read the full article →


The Vacationers, a 5-Star Read

A vacation is a time to step away from your regular day-to-day life, a reprieve during which you can relax and recharge. In Emma Straub’s new novel The Vacationers, this particular getaway represents something different for each of the seven family members and friends heading to the Spanish island of Mallorca. In this character-driven novel, secrets are revealed, relationships are examined, and decisions are made, all told through some masterful storytelling. For the Posts, a family with each individual member on the precipice of something big, this vacation couldn’t come at a better time. But they soon find that even though the scenery changes, the issues in their lives remain. Each of them, along with the friends accompanying them, comes to find these two weeks
Read the full article →


Hilda and the Black Hound #MMGM

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the Hildafolk series by Luke Pearson. My review of Hilda and the Troll emphasized my adoration of this spunky young character and the adventurous tone of the story in this complex comic book.  What I didn’t realize was that the series had continued with three additional books! Hilda and the Black Hound is the latest, and this fourth in the series has Hilda facing another adventure, of course, with just the amount of pluck and heart readers have come to expect from her. Since the first book in the series, Hilda and her mother have moved away from the Fjords and into the small city of Trolberg. It’s clear that Hilda still misses the wide expanse of the natural world, and
Read the full article →


The Fault in Our Stars #TFIOS {Books on Screen}

It’s here. #TFIOS. The movie adaptation of John Green’s beloved YA novel The Fault in Our Stars. And stock just went WAY up in Kleenex.
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars/Photo © 2013 – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
I convinced a friend who hadn’t yet read the book that she totally wanted to join me on Thursday night to attend “The Night Before Our Stars“– a showing of the film that was playing in about 650 theaters nationwide, followed by a live simulcast experience with the stars, director, and producer of the movie. Oh, and the YA author extraordinaire himself, John Green. As the theater seats filled with audience members, it became very obvious that I was among the
Read the full article →


A Little Bit of Everything Lost

Romantic relationships formed in high school or college can often take on an intensity like nothing else in the world matters. These ‘first loves’ might not last forever, but their memories certainly can. In the novel A Little Bit of Everything Lost by Stephanie Elliot, these themes are explored, along with some other emotionally heavy issues experienced by the main character, Marnie. In 2004, Marnie is a married mom of two rambunctious young boys, and her marriage to Stuart is comfortable if not necessarily full of passion. As a pilot, he is away for most of each week, and the time he is home each weekend flies by in the whirlwind of family life. When Marnie finds herself facing a devastating loss, her thoughts return to a time
Read the full article →