Monday, December 30, 2013

MINI-REVIEW: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig


December 25, 2013

Ben Stiller

20th Century Fox

1 hour 54 minutes



It should be known before going in to "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" that it's a special kind of movie.  It's not the kind of film that everyone will universally love, but it is one that, if you decide to let it in, it will take you on a fantastical journey through the mind and soul of the peculiar title character.  Walter, first and foremost, is a daydreamer.  His daydreaming can get so extreme that he'll start fantasizing about saving a dog from a building explosion while talking to someone on the phone.  These types of fantasies go on for the first 30 or so minutes of the film, so this may turn some people off.  For those who are able to stick it out and embrace the weirdness of his imaginations, the film becomes tamer with its fantasy sequences, and the journey Walter goes on to recover a missing photo for his job becomes exciting and even moving to watch.  While it's not without its flaws, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a marvel of a movie, and one hell of an accomplishment for director Ben Stiller.

Of all of the films he's directed, this is Ben Stiller's best directed film thus far in his career.  Having directed solely comedic films prior to this film, including the insanely hilarious "Zoolander" and the awesome "Tropic Thunder," Stiller is able to spread his wings metaphorically and tell a fascinating character story with amazing set pieces and not as many comedic moments as one would expect.  Not to mention, he does a solid job as the lead character Walter in the film.  Stiller isn't one of the best actors of all time, I would say, but he does carry this film mostly on his own and does a good job doing that.  Not to mention, he's able to get some pretty solid performances out of fellow actors Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, and Shirley Maclaine.  However, Adam Scott's villainous role was a little too over the top at times, though that might have been because A.) that's how the character was supposed to be, or B.) the awful beard he sported throughout the film decided to do all of the talking.

"Walter Mitty" reminds me of "Bridge to Terabithia" in a way, where the film as a whole might not be one of the best of the year, but its fantasy element is done so well and the story is told fantastically that all of the flaws I would have with this film flew out the door because I was along for this adventure with this peculiar character.  This might not be the best film Stiller has directed in terms of quality, but it is his most ambitious project and something that I feel will go down as a classic for the ages in the way that Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" did.  The cinematography and visual effects look fantastic, the story is so satisfying in the end, and the acting from everyone was great.  "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is such a special movie, and it's so rewarding for those who are able to embrace the weirdness and quirkiness of it all.



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