The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller

Sean Penn

reviewed by Tom-Tom

starhalf star

Ben Stiller hasn’t been in anything truly funny since There’s Something About Mary. Tropic Thunder had its moments but that was mostly due to the all-star cast rather than Stiller himself. His humor and style had a bit of a bitter, mean, and small quality to it. Certain stand-up comics can adapt to the age of no screenplays with compelling chatter which doesn’t stick out a mile as it does here. Another interesting of recent Ben Stiller films is the beauty in which they are filmed. The budget is not spared in cinematography, which makes the imbalance in quality of dialogue so jarring.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty isn’t the first film adaptation of James Thurber’s original tale of a daydreaming businessman but hopefully it’s the last. What is this movie? Is it a search, another late coming of age story for yet another annoying man-child? Is it a commercial for LIFE magazine, for Conan O’Brien, for travel to New York, Greenland, Iceland, Afghanistan? It’s a mess but one mostly beautiful to look at.

Walter Mitty is a boring guy with a boring job who spends the first 5 excruciating minutes deciding whether or not to “wink” (“poke” would be its Facebook equivalent, I guess). Every once in a short while, he steps into a daydream in which he is a hero, a singer, a mountain climber, an inventor of prosthetic legs for animals, and a badass fighter who doesn’t mind trashing his bearded boss.  These day dreams are annoyingly interrupted by one of the bearded management or romantic interest Cheryl Merhoff (Kristen Wiig).

A sudden obsession with work spurred on by his burgeoning love interest takes Mitty around the world with breathtaking scenes of beauty on par with any BBC-NHK nature collaborations. Thankfully Sean Penn is waiting for him at the end of it which gives the film at least some substance. With some decent grown-up dialogue, this could have actually been a good if not great film. It’s certainly lovely to watch, anyhow.

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