Roze-Rating: 4 / 5
Ben Stiller returns to the directors chair with this remake of short story adaptation of the same name. If trailers could win awards (can they?) then The Secret Life of Walter Mitty would win hands down, but because of that it may have left some viewers disappointed. As for me, it was everything I thought and wanted it to be. I didn’t expect it to be deep or emotional, if there was something I knew it would be, it was fun. As for viewing experience it totally did it for me, this is my perfect film for those time’s I feel wanderlust or just bored with life. That being said, maybe with a bit more finesse and fine tuning of the characters and the development of the story, it could have been something really special.
Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is just your average Joe stuck in a trance called life. Not the thrills of it but the repetition of it. Ironically Life magazine is where he works. He’s quiet, polite and in the shadows. Initially when first introduced to his place of work, we wonder how a man that works in such lively conditions could be as stuck as he is. Until we actually see where he works; a dark, cluttered space with only his subordinate as company. The film truly starts with a bang as we’re introduced to his first zone out while talking to an employee of a dating website. He spectacularly jumps off a bridge into a building window in order to bravely save the dog of the woman of his dreams (Kristen Wiig) before the building explodes. It’s a great opening, capturing just how imaginative Mitty can be, and honestly haven’t we all done that before? To get the synopsis out of the way, what finally encourages Mitty to take that leap of faith and live his fantasies is a lost negative, taken by loyal photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).
There’s a lot I love about this film, the cinematography, music, locations and characters. First of all Mitty is one of those guys that we can all relate to. He wants to get out and explore the world but just can’t seem to do it. Maybe he feels he’s past that time and now he should be sticking to other commitments like his job or maybe he’s just scared of what he might find. That’s where we can identify ourselves in him. There’s moments where we should feel sorry for Walter but we don’t fully give into it because we know he has it in him. Just like most of us we aren’t aware of our potential either until we truly test ourselves. I think as a character he’s someone you can easily care about which is important in films. All this is of course due to Ben Stiller’s honest depiction of him, definitely his best performance in a while.
I’d also like to mention Kristen Wiig’s performance, it was actually so refreshing seeing her play such a normal character for once. Usually she takes on these oddball characters with eccentric personalities and what not, but watching her just tone it all down for a more real character was quite pleasant.
The locations are absolutely stunning given justice by the cinematography. From start to finish the film is filled with great shots and smart transitions, utilizing the camera at its best. For an actor who stars in a lot of comedies with silly humor and story lines, he sure has an eye for a great looking film. Ultimately that’s what makes this film so entertaining. We’re absorbed in vast scenery and its lush colours, making us slightly envious of Mitty. As for the sound track, any film with Rogue Wave in it will be in my good books.
The only negative I would say about this film is the comedy. When intended to be funny it produced laughs from me and the people around me but I felt some of the jokes just didn’t fit the tone of the film. It’s such a minor thing but you can definitely see some of Stiller’s influence with certain jokes. I like his films and his brand of humor but in terms of the films overall tone, the more satirical and indie jokes fitted in more than the mainstream ones. To be honest it didn’t bother me that much, it was just something that I noticed affected the film a little bit.
I can understand why critics were so split with this film. In terms of emotional substance, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty doesn’t produce much of it. There’s quite a few avenues that could have been explored a tad more, like love, growth and the meaning of travel. They are definitely present but for those viewers hoping for a little bit more, they may be left disappointed. In my opinion I like how light hearted it is. I didn’t want it to have moments which would bring the film down, I wanted it to be fun and charming and that’s what it delivered. I had a smile throughout most of the viewing and I think that says a lot about how much of a feel good film this is.