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I saw an advanced screening of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" last
night. To the right person, this movie is life-changing,
life-affirming, and truly beautiful. No, the narrative isn't perfect.
The script isn't perfect. There are narrative flaws and stretches of
the imagination, but this movie is about stretching the imagination.
The concept - of an underachieving dreamer finally discovering the world - is something most of us can relate to. Accompanied by a truly beautiful soundtrack, Oscar-worthy camera work, and the surprisingly able acting of Ben Stiller, as well as an accompanying cast which includes Adam Scott, Kirsten Wiig and Sean Penn, among others, this is heart-warming and truly special.
I expected this to be funny and perhaps a little goofy. What it is is a breathtaking work of art. This is Ben Stiller at his best. The movie is just wonderful. It's funny, thought provoking, touching at times and startling at others. It's entertaining throughout. The pace may seem slow at times to those used to action packed films, but I personally don't care for nonstop technically enhanced action scenes for no apparent reason. I've been hoping people would tire of those for some time now, so we can get back to good stories again. This was a great story, loosely based on the original short story by James Thurber. I wish there were more movies out there like this. That would definitely get me back into movie theaters. As well...the acting was superb all around. Kristen Wiig was outstanding--as usual. I think this may be her best work as well.
I had been looking forward to seeing this movie since I saw the
preview. I was a big fan of the original story, and although I knew the
movie would be very different, I could see that this would end up being
one of my favorite movies. I was not disappointed.
Ben Stiller is perfect as Walter Mitty. His performance was exactly what I wanted. There was one scene in particular that seemed a little out of place, but then again you have to remember that Walter Mitty has a very active imagination. Ben Stiller's performance was so engaging, a nice break from his usual slapstick roles (which I also love). If you are hoping to see him doing one of his usual humorous roles, you will be disappointed. If you want to see him capturing the emotions of a man that has a hard time expressing himself, you will love this movie.
The visuals in this film were particularly fantastic. From the New York offices of LIFE all the way to Iceland. Every scene was perfectly captured and just beautiful.
Finally, the soundtrack. While I was definitely distracted by the visuals and Ben Stiller's spot-on performance, the soundtrack deserves a nod as well. Every song fit perfectly with the tone of the film. There are a few scenes that stand out as particularly wonderful, and I'm sure you'll know what I mean once you see the movie. This will definitely be on my shelf once it is released.
Really my only criticism is Adam Scott. While he is great at playing the jerk boss, his beard is very distracting. It looks fake, as if they pasted it onto his face. Other than that, I think the movie was pretty much perfect and can be enjoyed by anyone looking to see a beautiful movie about a man with a very active imagination.
In Afghanistan on the snow covered Himalayan Mountains grizzled and
world wise Sean O'Connell played by Sean Penn gazes at his coveted
photo moment. Sean says that all he wants is to be "in the moment".
Sean Penn is selfless gravitas in this moment as he confides in Ben
Stiller's exasperated mild mannered Walter Mitty, who literally travels
to the ends of the earth to track down the maverick old-school
legendary photographer. Be in the moment and be present in life--are
the eloquently poignant lyrics of Director Ben Stiller's "The Secret
Life of Walter Mitty".
I loved the James Thurber short story which Writer Steve Conrad based his update. Walter is the chronic day dreamer, an escape from his ordinary life. At times Director Stiller and Writer Conrad teeter capriciously all over the narrative landscape including a hysterical and touching eHarmony thread. Granted they humorously frame Walter's "zone outs" from reality. One obscure gag from "Benjamin Button" is nearly wacky enough to spiral into incoherencefortunately it does not. There is the amazing upside. In a joyously freeing scene Walter skateboards down the winding roads of Iceland; spectacularly filmed by Stuart Dryburgh. Kristen Wiig in a touching turn goes unplugged with David Bowie's "Ground Control to Major Tom". All the curious rifting I think is forgivable for its noble purpose. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" celebrates being present in life. No one is alone.
Ben Stiller is quietly heroic navigating Walter's transformation into the unknown. His blank stares as Walter "zones out" touch the depth of our own vulnerabilities. He is bold, funny, and aware. Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a photo negative archiver at Life Magazine. He has given up on his dreams, taking on the financial and emotional stress of his aging Mom brilliantly played by Shirley MacLaine, about to enter a care home. His sister is flighty wannabe actress Odessa (good Kathryn Hahn), dreams of playing Rizzo in "Grease". Walter joined eHarmony so he can date Cheryl Melhof (Kristen Wiig), who works in the same office. Wiig charms as Cheryl, the quirky single Mom of skateboarder son Rich (Marcus Antturi). Cheryl is smart and pretty, and is actually interested in Walter, if he had a clue.
Life Magazine has been taken over by another Company. To transition over to an on-line magazine, Ted Hendricks (brilliantly arrogant Adam Scott) heads the restructuring corporate team. Ted is a major jerk arrogant and not as smart as he thinks. Walter is the sole personal contact of legendary cover photographer Sean O'Connell (Penn). When Sean's photo negative for the cover of Life's last newsstand issue is missing, Ted focuses his attention on Walter. Sean claims this is his best photo of his career. Walter must find the missing negative to save his job and possibly win over Cheryl. Working with Cheryl, Walter starts his search in Greenland. Somehow diverting to Iceland, Walter calls Cheryl from a Papa John's Pizza there. It all ties in.
Ben Stiller is inspiring, as "Walter Mitty" amazingly never takes itself seriously. The movie joyfully celebrates life as illustrated by the beautiful soccer game with Walter and Sean in the Afghan mountains. Stiller makes us pull for Walter as he reclaims his power. Kristen Wiig is funny and compassionate as Walter's gentle muse. She is surprising. Sean Penn is awesome as Sean O'Connell, strong and whimsically wise. Shirley MacLaine anchors in her Mother's unconditional love for her son Walter, without many words. Patton Oswald nearly steals the movie as Todd, the eHarmony profile adviser. Warm and hysterical he punctuates Walter's transformational journey. Stiller reminds us with humor and soul that Life is wonderful when we are present in it. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is funny and beautiful.
I have given this a "10" rating. There was one minor issue I had with
the movie that would make it not quite that in my mind, but a "9"
rating would be an injustice to this extraordinary film and, since I'm
unable to give it a 9.75 or something like that, "10" it is.
This movie strikes an incredible balance between indy/art-house and Hollywood epic. The pathos of the main character is well-captured in subtle ways, as are the feelings of triumph when he is able to go beyond his own self-imposed limitations. The cinematography is extraordinary-- this is a drama that *must* be seen in theaters. I expect that most adults with any sensitivity at all will find this a highly satisfying experience that speaks to their very cores. My wife and I were privileged to see it in an advanced screening, and can't believe we have to wait another couple of weeks for the official release to go back and see it again.
I loved this movie. I know some critics say this movie is like flicking through a National Geographic magazine. I disagree, this movie is a well-balanced triumph. Fantastic views, simple yet wonderfully poignant story line and strong lead actor. Kristen wig and Sean Penn had unidimensional roles within the movie but they are not the leads. The humor was tasteful, adequate and well placed. It was such a pleasant surprise from your day to day blockbuster and I strongly prefer this movie to the desolation of Smaug which I watched the night before. Ben Stiller has managed to achieve an impossible feat with this movie, an elegant contemporary film without excessive emotional histrionics or sexual overtones. Strongly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a modern take on life. Just like the lead, Walter Mitty is your everyday guy doing an everyday job faced with realistic modern day issues. One day, he takes a leap of faith and that has made all the difference. How can anyone not love this movie?
One really has to wonder what the professional reviewers are really
thinking. We looked over the family movie list and barely decided to go
to this one based on lackluster reviews. Six out of six of us REALLY
liked it and found it deep and entertaining, and easy to watch. By all
means, if you are looking to enjoy a movie, go see this one.
If you are looking for a connection to the original story, the connection happens during the first 45 minutes and then seems to go in its own direction. Big deal. The movie moves through characters development, plot lines, and geographies smoothly, and does not reveal its final hand until the end.
'Tropic Thunder', 'The Cable Guy', 'Zoolander'... Ben Stiller has created some entertaining comedies, but 'Walter Mitty' is by far his most audacious piece of direction so far. The story is solid and the cinematography is stunning, Stiller has created an utterly mesmerising spectacle that follows the same basis of the 1947 classic starring Danny Kaye. Whilst I found the majority of the film charming and entertaining, it's the beautiful cinematography from Stuart Dryburgh that really sells this flick, and in my opinion should have been worthy of an Oscar- nomination at the least. One of the most entertaining comedy-dramas I have seen in recent years, a film that Stiller should be proud of.
I saw this movie on a special sneak preview event. I admit being utterly mesmerized by some of the trailers. I did really enjoy the film. It has a nice message and is definitely a feel good movie. There is nothing wrong with that. For me, this is the most beautifully looking film I've seen this year. The cinematography and camera shots were fantastic - right up there with Life of Pi and Gravity. It's definitely worth seeing on the big screen. I personally enjoyed Ben Stiller in a more serious role. The film has comedic elements but everything is a bit more subtle and reflective of a man trying to find his inner courage and voice.
I would like to open with one word; Wow. I had been wanting to watch this movie since I had seen the first trailer. After being invited to an advanced showing I got very excited. The movie was outstanding. The cinematography was perfect and the character development was extraordinary. The film was very well paced and at no point did i believe the film was too short or that I felt rushed during the movie. It has its action moments and satire, but overall it is a very happy film. I will most likely see the film in the future again because this is up there with Forrest Gump and Django Unchained as a near perfect movie.
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