After beginning production in 1994 (longer than I’ve been alive), a remake of the 1947 comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is here in the form of, you guessed it, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stiller in the lead role. After much hype due to the great trailers and slight Oscar buzz leading to much less hype due to the “meh” reviews, I had no idea what to expect from Walter Mitty. What I got was an enjoyable ride that should please families; although it’s certainly not a film worth paying $10 to see in theaters.
When LIFE magazine gets shut down, an employee, who has a horrible zoning out problem, is tasked with finding the lost picture that was going to be the final issue’s cover.
It might not sound like the most exciting premise, but that’s one of the great achievements of this film. It takes a simple story and makes it into a huge adventure; taking our lead character all over the world. It’s certainly original with not too many movies out there like Walter Mitty (and certainly none in recent memory). People looking for a breath of fresh air will enjoy Walter Mitty the most.
Unfortunately, the screenplay has a little bit of trouble connecting the pieces of this puzzle together. The motivation for Walter Mitty to travel the globe for a picture at a whim is lost between him trying to impress a girl, to find the picture for LIFE magazine’s sake, or for him to personally go out and do something in his uneventful life. Not having a more clear motivation does make you question why he’s doing all of this in the first place.
Another quick problem with the screenplay involves the family element with Walter Mitty. There’s a lot of confusion involving his mother and sister and the matter at hand that I’m still confused with (and can’t talk about directly because spoilers). It seemed like a cheat to move the story along. Some won’t mind it, but I personally don’t believe it fit well in the movie.
What did fit well in this movie is the other aspects of the screenplay. From its feel good moments that are absolutely outstanding to its quite funny dialogue at times, screenwriter Steve Conrad did a fine job in these aspects of the screenplay but had some troubles putting the film’s big story together.
The performances in the film were great though. Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig do a fine job and had some great chemistry together, Adam Scott is a good douchebag, and two other actors who I don’t want to say are in this film (because it’s the surprise that I absolutely adored) absolutely nailed their roles.
Finally, the direction in this movie by Ben Stiller and the cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh were fantastic. This is a gorgeous film with lots of outstanding visuals. It’s not that special effects were even that big in this film, it’s more the environments and how they were captured that impress me. The film has some minor shaky cam but the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to the visuals in this film.
The general audience will see past Walter Mitty’s flaws and will really enjoy the film while somebody who judges a movie critically will definitely see that the film’s screenplay couldn’t handle the story, but even critics will enjoy Walter Mitty’s dialogue, performances, and direction. If your kids make you see Walter Mitty, just know that you’re in for a treat.
For reviews and more from me, Petey Oneto, you can check out my blog but be sure to check back to Resident Entertainment for more of my posts in the future.