I normally wouldn’t see a Ben Stiller movie, let me start with that. He is on the list of actors I only watch if forced to by friends, alcohol, and/or being bound to a chair. As most folks who know me are aware modern comedy really isn’t my thing. Embarassment humor, bullies, or frat humor are lost on me to the point I had to have multiple people explain to me why This is the End (not to be confused with Worlds End – which was hillarious) is funny. Even after explaining it, I still don’t get it. Yet there was something about the trailers for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty had me intrigued.
For those keeping score, thats what a trailer is supposed to do. Get you interested and intrigued in seeing a film. These succeeded. I saw a Ben Stiller in a serious, relatively so, role in something that appeared heart felt. That was most likely helped by a wise musical choice for the trailer utilizing Of Monsters and Men (“Dirty Paws”) and Jose Gonzales (“Step Out”); both of which appear in the film. If you didn’t know thats actually kind of rare that trailer music also appears in the film.
The movie both stars and was directed by Stiller himself. I think that was a really wise choice in this case as it allowed him to pull back and know what had to be done for every shot. It’s also important as he truly is the center of the film and while the camera does shoot others from time to time, he is on screen the entirety of the film. Normally this comes across a bit ego centric by actor/directors, but in this film its needed and it works.
The story of course focuses on a middling every man, wage slave going through the motions every day in corporate america. He fills his time with never truly taking a chance and day dreaming of what could have been. His imagination is powerful and takes the audience with him in often pleasantly comedic ways. As Walter finds out his company has been acquired he, his friends and the object of his unrequited affection find their jobs on the line. His especially over something simple. Will Walter continue to fantasize or will he embrace life?
Well, for that you will need to watch. What? You know me spoiler free.
The movie has little to nothing to do with the Danny Kaye, 1947 version. The heart of the original short story by James Thurber (I am pretty sure I read it in 6th grade) is clearly here in the writing of Steve Conrad (The Weatherman, Pursuit of Happyness). There are times it pushes the envelope almost too much with the fantasies, they get just shy of too silly. Too much. Then it brings you back in at the half way point and brings you the rest of the way.
It is not Forrest Gump for the now. Gump was about a man through no true concious decision in his life found himself in amazing and incredible situations. He was special in many ways and his life is one to some extent that many would want just to see what he had seen. Mitty on the other hand is about an average man, the average man who makes a choice. He decides. He takes action. Yes, there are plot holes from a few technical standpoints, but those aren’t the point.
What is it? Whimsy. Wonder. To stop think of and start doing.
It’s a bit ironic I think. Bear with me a moment. I was getting pizza the other day with a new friend. She was telling me about the adventures of her life (which are amazing) and I was thinking of all the things I *could* be doing. She has an awesome guy and has done some amazing things. In that moment I was Walter Mitty and didn’t even see it. So to my new friend, Thank you. To all of you out there, like me, working every day and dreaming of doing; let me skip right now to the
I really enjoyed the film. I laughed. I cried a bit. More importantly than any of that is I took a bit of it home with me, in me. It’s that kind of movie.
This movie isn’t for everyone. The imagery is amazing as is the sublime storytelling, but it won’t attract a lot of audiences. If you need an escape this movie might actually be it. You can live vicariously through Walter Mitty and then at the end, like me, decide maybe it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing.
Overall – I do think this is a very good film but not for all audiences and personalities. If the review is enough to get you curious I hope you enjoy. If not, take a chance when it hits your direct media of choice.