At first glance, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty doesn't seem like a teen-friendly movie. Sure, it features funnyman Ben Stiller and Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig, but the topic is definitely more serious than funny. Plus it's based on a short story from the 1940s.
Boring, right? Teenagers might know everything, but what they don't know is how much they need to see this movie.
Most parents are vaguely familiar with the classic short story by James Thurber. It’s about a man who frequently daydreams about exciting adventures to escape from his dull reality. And, although this latest big-screen adaptation takes a lot of liberties to modernize the story, the heart is still the same.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a man who has just let life happen to him. He works at Life magazine, but his own life is so uninteresting that he can't even complete an online-dating profile.
So many movies that appeal to teens show characters that follow their dreams and become successful. Instead, Walter shows the consequences of a life without risks, without passion and ultimately without real happiness. That's not what any parent wants for their kids.
In addition to being a cautionary tale for teens to live life to the fullest, Walter Mitty also shows that people are capable of change. Unlike the short story, the movie version of Walter takes a leap and actually fulfills his daydreams, ultimately taking a journey across the world. The fact that he does it even though he's scared and unsure and stumbles a bit is even better.
This winter break, pull the kids away from texting and hanging out with their friends for a little while and introduce them to Walter. Show them the benefits of breaking away from the pack. Even the most ordinary person can do something extraordinary.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opens in theaters December 25.