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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.
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.
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.
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 incoherence—fortunately 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.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a negative asset manager for Life magazine- basically, his is the department responsible for bringing in and processing the film from the field that will go into the magazine (and by his 'department', I mean Walter and his assistant (Martinez) ). In essence, in the time Walter has worked at the publication, the very soul of the magazine has been processed on his watch. It's prescient, that his seemingly simple position holds so much sway, but we'll return to that idea.
His problem, it seems, is that he daydreams. Mind you, this isn't the type of absent-mindedness that you or I take part in. Walter misses large chunks of actual time in his fantasy land, jolted back to reality by silence, love interests, or transition managers. In his escapes, Walter is well-traveled and mysterious, interesting and not invisible to others. He's confident and allowed to pursue that which he wants. In other words, he's the full version of himself. I like how this film pulls back the comedic reigns here- Stiller too often becomes, well, Stiller, and overdoses on the comedy. Here, the humor is subtle and fits the tone of the film. It also doesn't pander, or make us feel sorry for Walter. There's a very good reason his life is the way it is, and again, it's presented without pretense.
I mentioned a transition manager, profiled in full douchebag by Adam Scott. Well, the print version of Life is going under in this film, and switching to an online format. Positions like Walter's are likely to be eliminated, as well as accounting spots like the one Cheryl (Wiig) holds down. However, before the end, they want to send up one last issue, and long-time contributor Sean O'Connell (Penn), who has sent a roll of film containing an image he specifically wants to become the last cover. The problem is that Walter has either misplaced it, or it was lost along the way. This causes him to seek it out, thus finally spurring him to make his fantasies become, well, realities.
I think a good portion of society can identify with an individual that finally lets loose a bit, that allows himself, finally, the adventure he deserves. A lesser film would make these emotional breakthroughs farcical, ala "Last Holiday", but this is subtle and decent. That's why the big reveal of what that last cover image is a fantastic moment. I believed in this Walter Mitty as a hard- working guy who missed out on life thus far due to some bad luck. It was wonderfully refreshing to see a character, despite his quirks, find happiness in the midst of just being, well, a good guy.
I caution those looking simply for a pandering, feel-good story around the holidays. That's not what this is. Instead, Stiller and crew have taken the spirit of the source material and adapted it to our world. Granted, there are a few goofs- for example, Walter seems keen on good rock music and skateboard culture, but he isn't aware of a popular David Bowie song? Also, how does one get a clementine cake, sweet as it may be, through customs? Those things don't doom the film, but I do feel it's another reason this will divide people- those that claim this has nothing to offer but cynical product placement messages, and those like myself that sense a broader theme of becoming who we want to be, and understanding where we lose our way. That's a powerful thought, and this quietly beautiful film has the sense to not beat us over the head with it. After all, the film does tell us that "beautiful things don't ask for attention". That's certainly a statement that a number of filmmakers could stand to hear more often.
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.
In addition to starring, Stiller also takes on directing duty, and does a mostly wonderful job of collaborating with writer Steven Conrad in adapting Thurber's classic tale of a man's yearning for more out of life.
A fantasy adventure with glimpses of comedy, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is, in one word, pleasant. Envision a pyramid of qualities; the film's dreamlike sequences comfortably and rightfully sit atop its magnitude of highlights. With the lines between fantasy and reality often being blurred in Mitty's zoned out state of paralysis, he invites us into his crazy, hazy, even mazy lapses into daydreams of romanticism, adventure and pleasure.
Why are The Secret Life of Walter Mitty's fantasy sequences so successful? Because of their relation to our own imaginations: the things we wish we could say but don't; the places we wish we could go but won't. The film's fantasy references are inspired by popular movies such as The Matrix, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Harry Potter and pretty much every superhero film ever. This hilarious and creative approach to Mitty's fantasies offers an insightful look into how uninsightful our own imaginations can be, as they crave originality but settle for what has been imagined before.
Perhaps a slight disappointment to Mitty's on screen daydreams is their quantity. While Thurber's short story is dominated by the character's constant drift into his fantasy worlds, Stiller's adaptation favours reality and narrative over fantasy and themes. The film's aforementioned highlights are too few and far between throughout the 114 minute feature. Thus, it may have been Beneficial for Stiller to lengthen the film slightly in order to incorporate more of Mitty's fantasies, which would have better established his dissatisfaction with life.
Despite this, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty does have a story investing and intriguing enough for it not to be the film's demise. The secrecy behind negative 25 drives the film along, with love interest Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) also spurring Mitty on in the passenger's seat, inspiring the anxious and rigid dreamer to take his unpredictable ride and become the person he desires to be.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is refreshing in its lack of reliance on dialogue. Instead, the film's beautiful soundtrack and score, cinematography in exceptional landscapes and even the quietness of Mitty, tells us pretty much everything we need to know. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty consists of visual wonderment, with superbly selected and composed music to harmonise the scenery, complementing each other as they stroll hand in hand through Mitty's perfectly paced journey.
"Life is about courage and going into the unknown." If you fail to relate to Mitty's early illusory state, cautiousness and absence of courage, then you probably live a somewhat audacious lifestyle, in which case good for you! For the rest of us, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a relatable, pleasant and semi-inspirational modernisation of Thurber's story.
Just as the film's concluding third appears to have little payoff considering its memorable opening two, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty wraps up with a revitalising, picture-perfect moment, fulfilling enough to make cinema-goers reconsider 2013's most impressive movies.
In spite of its imperfections in almost keeping Mitty's secret life somewhat of a secret from the audience at times, and preferencing the film's plot over his fantasies, this adaptation is nonetheless a satisfying, fun, visually and audibly pleasing present for the holiday season. Not even Walter Mitty would fantasise about battling you through the streets of Manhattan if you waited for The Secret Life of his on DVD or Netflix, but this delightful film is definitely worth the time and box office cost if you find yourself looking for inspiration for your own imagination.
Screen writer Steve Conrad adapts the title and the name and over-active imagination of the main character and tells his own original story. Ben Stiller directs and stars in this obvious "labour of love" of a movie project.
Walter Mitty is a timid guy who tends to "space out" and enter into a world of his own where he is able to do wondrously heroic exploits. He would rather join an online dating service than to meet this girl Cheryl at work that he fancies.
One day, he misplaced the precious negative of the photograph meant to be the cover of the last issue of Life Magazine. As his job is on the line, Walter needs to look for Sean, the globe-trotter photographer who took that missing photo. Upon deducing that Sean was in Greenland, Mitty suddenly decides to throw all caution to the wind and just go on a difficult quest, which will be the biggest adventure of his lifetime.
Visually, this film is perfect with its breathtaking cinematography and unobtrusive special effects. Many scenes, particularly those showing Walter skateboarding in Iceland, or climbing the Himalayas, were very memorably shot with unique camera range and angles.
The script does fall into melodrama, but I did not mind this. Ben Stiller was very good as Walter, capturing his shyness and cluelessness so sensitively. I liked Walter's moments with his mother, played by Shirley McLaine in a subdued likable manner. I also liked Walter's awkward romance with Cheryl played by Kristen Wiig, in only the second role I have seen her since "Bridesmaids." She was also very relaxed and natural here in a straight role. Too bad we do not see the full strength of her comic skills.
I cannot deny that I was disappointed with how the story went. Once we reach the second half of the film when Walter actually stops having fantasies and does things for real already. I know of course that this was the point of the film, that dreams were there to be fulfilled. I just felt it somehow lost the spirit of the source short story.
Overall though, this was an entertaining feel-good film that will bring us to places we rarely see on screen. The spectacular photography of the exotic settings demand that you see this film on the big screen.
Despite lofty comparisons with Forrest Gump, Walter Mitty admittedly does not exactly reach those heights. However, upon watching this film, you will wonder how something so beautiful-looking could have been totally shut-out from Oscar or any other award consideration.
Update:8/2016 Still in love with this film. It's timeless. Even though I have watched Walters adventure more than a handful of times, I still go back. This movie has replaced "Hook"(W/Robin Williams) as my "sick" movie. If or when I'm not feeling good, I put on Walter, and feel loved and warm almost as soon as his first daydream. This is NOT the original movie. It feels and moves nothing like it. This movie is timeless. Much the same as the '95 Pride and Prejudice. Though others may try to imitate or even replicate this film, no one will really be able to hold the impact of Stillers version.
In time when movies always try too hard and tend to be excessive, 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' seemingly effortless delivers a timeless story to its audience. The movie is beautiful, charming and funny, yet it achieves all that without taking itself too serious. That's its real trick in my opinion.
It is unfortunate the movie wasn't off to a great box office success, but I'm sure the movie will find it's audience. You probably won't find any Oscar worthy performances, but that's not always everything. From time to time we just need to be reminded how beautiful life can be, and the movie does just that brilliantly.
Ben Stiller might be known for one thing, but we can see with this movie he has a wider range. And the visual/virtual effects he uses help support his vision. A vision of a novel that I haven't read, but sounds more than intriguing even after you've watched the movie. Which cannot be said about most of novels/movies that have been made this way. This is not your typical movie, even though it might hit some familiar notes and go ways that are to be expected. Take the journey and fly with it ...
Reading through the other reviews of this film baffle me. While I find it completely understandable for pretentious people to find this feel-good movie cliche or too unrealistic I cannot possibly understand how people find it boring, I've watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty multiple times and am always completely enraptured with not only the characters and scenery but the use of framing and color. The structured lines, the blue-ish palette that ultimately changes to use red as Walter comes out of his comfort zone. It's obvious and cliche but its beautiful and the humor in it is great even if, sure, I'll give you that it plays off Walter's social awkwardness maybe a little too much- especially given that Ben Stiller isn't exactly giving an oscar worthy performance.
I also think that this movie has some of the best uses of product placement I've ever seen. Rather than including a single meaningless and out of place shot of a product to promote it like you might see in a Nicki Minaj music video, this movie incorporates the product placement into the story. Papa Johns has meaning, its not just a pizza place the characters show up to and comment on how good the pizza and service are, it's Walter's first job after his dad dies- he doesn't even like it due to the bad memories it brings up for him. The same goes for eharmony, its not just a way for Walter to get involved with Cheryl, it's a malfunctioning website with a good employee that ultimately plays a role in Walter's journey. How could you complain about product placement like that? Movies cost money and if you think that a movie is bad just because it has product placement you need a reality check and a step down from your ego, especially if the product placement is like this.
The hardly talked about soundtrack is a wonderful blend of José González's songs and an instrumental score that combines motifs and González's humming. I had a playlist of it playing on repeat for a week after I watched the movie.
This has almost definitely all been said before, but I couldn't leave help myself after reading these reviews from what must be miserable pretentious people who think that a movie is only good if its dark, dramatic, and has no clear resolution. I could tell it was a good movie At The Least from the very first time I saw the trailer. I couldn't care less if you disagree with me.
Until he finds a goal in life, which puts in him adventurous situations by accident, which transform him in the man he always was. A unique individual, an adventurer, a dreamer who fulfills his dreams and finds the appreciation he needs and deserves. But the appreciation doesn't come from other, but from himself.
What the movie does brilliantly, is make the watcher feel connected to Walter Mitty and feels with him. You'll find him goofy, but likable. Your respect for him will grow with every minute, and at the end of the movie, you'll love him. Maybe you even recognize your own milestone moments, mountains you have climbed, seas you have sailed, so we all are bigger than we are perceived, as long as you have that respect and confidence from within.
Props to Ben Stiller. Jim Carrey had his Truman Show, Will Ferrel had his Stranger Than Fiction. Ben Stiller's Walter Mitty should be in that group.
please ignore the negative reviews and critics ratings- take a look for yourself. The music is great too.
Very few films have the power to stay with me for years. This one sticks to my bones. As a photographer and cinematographer I relish the beauty of the images portrayed in this film. As a writer and a director, the inspirational power of the story leaves me changed, improved and impressed with the brevity of life and the importance of living it without the hindrance of fear or regret.
Ben Stiller is wonderful as the title character and Kristen Wiig is charming as his love interest. Time truly is our most valuable commodity. Sometimes I finish a film and I am painfully aware that I have invested poorly and lost that time, never to regain it. With this film I feel that I am improved for investing my time in watching it: a better filmmaker, but more importantly, a better human being. This film is a rare gem indeed. Bravo, Ben Stiller. Bravo.
Considering that the last film Stiller directed was Tropic Thunder, which was hilarious, this guy has some real talent behind the lens too.
Many are knocking this film, as being too positive, too optimistic, too lighthearted, or too insubstantial. I just do not get all that. It is a feel good film. I suppose, in this day and age, for some that is just too much to deal with. For some of us, it is just really good entertainment. Have we really degenerated to the level where that is not OK anymore?
Forget Bridesmaids and Hangovers, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a comic romance for everyone that eschews raunchiness for real life challenges a dweeb named Walter (Ben Stiller) faces daily. He is everyman, a dreamer who gently supplants his daily dreaming with real life romance.
The first part of the film loosely adapts James Thurber's short story in which the now famous introvert dreams of various heroic adventures, mostly as he tries to impress his co-worker Cheryl. The latter part of the film concerns his real adventures tracking down a famous but reclusive photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn). Director Stiller plays it low key while he gently shapes the passive hero into an active one. The director calmly moves into a reality more exciting than Mitty's dreams.
The multifaceted film, however, loads on the schmaltz and one- dimensional characters while it also touches on the curse of downsizing, using the demise of Life magazine as a setting for the loss of jobs, which Walter experiences. Yet, Mitty is lovable enough for the audience to hope this formerly introverted dork can save himself from unemployment and loneliness.
The entire family can enjoy a spirited albeit superficial comedy without scatological or romantic excess. And the lesson about living the dream comes gently and believably. An enjoyable comedy this is.
"To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to...." Life Magazine