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- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) reviewed by Ryan Stone
Friday, March 14, 2014
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt, Kathryn Hahn, Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter
Director: Ben Stiller
Synopsis: Ben Stiller stars as Walter Mitty, a low-level magazine employee with a tendency for imagination and anonymity. Prone to colorful daydreams of adventure, heroism, and romance, Walter copes with his life of black and white. When the loss of a vital magazine cover photo jeopardizes his job as well as his beautiful coworker’s, Walter Mitty begins to see his daydreams become a reality. Breaking free to experience the world outside his cubicle, Walter’s search for security reveals the true purpose of life.
Reviewer’s Rating: 4.5/5 Reels
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a humble yet adventurous film that relies heavily on vast scrolling landscapes to drive home a transformative plot line. There is a clear progression of Walter’s character that takes place throughout his exciting travels. The awkward romance between Walter and Sheryl is certainly not lost within the film’s many action-packed destination scenes. Overall, the film is both visually and thematically appealing throughout.
Ben Stiller takes on an uncharacteristically subdued role in this film and it works for him. Walter Mitty is a troubled character seeking freedom and Stiller captures the nuances of that perfectly. However, like any Ben Stiller film would, there are a couple “daydream” scenes that help us to remember his roots in slapstick comedy. I think we all could have lived without the overdramatized visual of Stiller in a “Benjamin Button” parody. Beside these, Ben Stiller’s performance is truly incredible considering his dual role as actor/director.
In the daydream scenes, the film shows a tasteful use of special effects that both establish a villain-esque character (Adam Scott) and serve to highlight the vastness of Walter Mitty’s imagination. When Scott’s character and Walter are seen battling for ownership of a “Stretch Armstrong” doll, the viewer is likely to be blown away by the fast-paced nature of the scene. From falling out of a window several stories up to traveling on broken asphalt down the streets of New York, this fantasy feels strangely real. Though it may have been easy to do so, the special effects do not distract from the overall “indie” feel of the film.
Ben Stiller is joined by an outstanding supporting cast, which succeeds in guiding Walter Mitty through his self-actualization journey. Kristen Wiig portrays a lovable romantic interest as she encourages the meek Mitty to reach for the stars. Walter’s progress is marked by several phone conversations with an excited E-Harmony employee played by Patton Oswalt. Finally, the “quintessence” of his transformation is seen through Walter’s conversation with the lone wolf Sean O’Connell, played by Sean Penn.
Filmed on location in some of the most beautiful parts of the globe, this movie shows great artistic merit. In perhaps the most exciting scene, a now rugged Walter long-boards down a vast and winding road in Iceland. Surrounded by rolling green hills and unhindered by others, the man barrels toward an active volcano using rocks that have been tied to his hands as steering. When he reaches the bottom of the road, it is difficult to refrain from clapping and shouting in his victory.
With an ending that is sure to touch the hearts of many, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty awakens that little part of everyone that wonders what it might be like to break free and “see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.”
By: Ryan Stone