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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013; Rated Rated PG)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
C
 

“This is one of the more disappointing efforts of the holiday movie season. ”

-Richard Roeper

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Review

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

(2013; PG)

In theaters:
Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Genre:
Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Director:
Ben Stiller

Cast:
Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott

COMMENTS(12)
 
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marie said on Friday, December 12, 2014 1:01:18 PM
Think again, Mr. Roeper! This movie is beautiful and inspiring.

Tom said on Wednesday, December 03, 2014 12:12:16 AM
Ever since I heard that Ben Stiller, who I loved in Zoolander, Mystery Men, as the Tom Cruise wannabee, and many other films, was directing an adaptation of one of my all-time favorite short stories, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", I wanted to see it. And when I saw that our local library had finally acquired a copy, I rented it out.

What I got was, to a larger degree than Tropic Thunder's unbelievably ridiculous Oscar-win climax, an utterly unbelievable, immensely uneven and ultimately cliched and boring self-homage by Stiller with much love to Stiller.

The story starts out innocently enough in a contemporary setting but as the daydream fantasies are replaced by real life adventures, each more unbelievable and ultimately ridiculous than the next, coupled with a 'twist' and climax that I saw coming a mile away, my patience and ability to suspend disbelief got worn thinner and thinner. In the end, the 'deep' message to get out and experience life gets lost in a sea of platitudes and overblown epic imagery.

The best thing about the movie are the visuals and it's sad to think of what could have been achieved if Stiller had chosen to stay closer to Thurber's tack, dreaming big but staying small. I would have much rather had a 'life of Pi' twist where it all turns out to be the product of Mitty's fertile imagination than the belief defying adventures that Mitty experiences. I mean seriously, how many of us are employed by a massive multinational newspaper or have money to climb the Himalayas? Some of us can't even afford a gym membership.

Stiller's Mitty is about as much the James Thurber story as Frozen is Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. Loosely based barely covers it. The nagging wife of many years has been replaced by the nagging boss/hatchetman who bears no love for Mitty (which the wife in the original story does have, despite all her nagging) and indeed he seems to be a conflation of Mitty's wife and the valet who smoothly parks Mitty's car when Mitty's distractions make him park badly. Mitty's daydreaming episodes which leave him 'spaced out' are all too quickly replaced by real world episodes that both outweigh and are of greater importance and require far more suspension of disbelief than anything he fantasizes about.

Since it's Christmas, I would like to contrast Stiller's Mitty with a true Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life". Set in a tiny snowbound town, not unlike the tiny snowbound tow that features in the original short story, George Bailey is a man who has to give up his dreams, just like Mitty had. He runs his father's old Building and Loan business fairly and humanely, never fleecing his clients and allowing them to begin life with a bit of money in the bank and in their own home. When WW2 happens, he never becomes a big hero, unlike his brother. In the end, his goodness and kindness toward others is his salvation. This is what I was hoping for - a smaller film where the magic of adventure only came through day dreaming. It would have been possible to stay true to the original narrative and yet have the most futuristic and modern visuals without needing to scale the Himalayas.

Leslye said on Thursday, November 13, 2014 10:07:51 PM
Absolutely loved this movie! Just watched it a second time on HBO and enjoyed it just as much.

Chris said on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:07:43 AM
I absolutely loved this movie! So funny and uplifting. Truly heartwarming.

Brian said on Friday, May 16, 2014 10:54:45 PM
I liked the movie a lot.

Tyler said on Saturday, April 19, 2014 2:03:20 AM
I find your review of this movie to be a bit odd. It's almost like you don't like Ben Stiller and read into it too much. I don't think he was referring to himself with the Indiana Jones comment but more to how the character has changed.

Yes the story doesn't make much sense with digital media but that seems like a tiny thing to over look for the great story of Walter Mitty.

Mario Jimenez said on Wednesday, April 09, 2014 5:26:26 AM
RR... you need not be so critical and hard on your -self- expectations and those of your peers when you give review(s). Honestly... To this day I've yet to see the movie. The preview played during the holiday season. When I saw the preview, I researched it.... A remake for today's audience, ok. I read most comments by people that have seen this movie and have posted their take on it, their delectable witticism. I'm about to purchase this movie. Thank you Ben.

Francois Dorque said on Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:07:39 PM
I liked the part where he eats the foot long hot dog and says "it was nothing". What a guy!

Hanna D. said on Tuesday, January 07, 2014 3:27:46 PM
I actually found this film quite good - except for the fact that the volcano-eruption caused immense problems in real life and wasn't treated with the necessary seriousness. But Ben Stiller was great to watch. Actually, so were all the other actors. Good, that Adam Scott gets to shine more! Greetings from Central Europe

Jack said on Sunday, December 29, 2013 10:27:14 PM
Is Ben Stiller persona non grata among movie critics? The antipathy for this movie is astounding.

 
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