Film Review – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - post

Title: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Director: Ben Stiller (The Cable Guy)

Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Shirley Maclaine

Plot: Life magazine photo lab worker and day dreamer Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a man disconnected from reality and a man to frightened to share his feelings with co-worker and potential love interest Cheryl (Wiig). When Life magazine is shut down and the front page negative lost Walter must stop dreaming and do as he sets out to find illusive photographer Sean O’Connell (Penn) and recover the lost photo.

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention”

Review by Eddie on 17/01/2014

Setting out to prove to the world that he is more than mere male models and zipper accidents actor/director Ben Stiller has chosen James Thurber’s famous short story as inspiration for this wannabe life changing movie that whilst featuring many an incredible image and playing out with an inoffensive charm, is a tale that wants us to believe that it is more than it is and upon reflection is about as meaty as a vegetarians banquet.

The downfall of Stiller’s film is that the actual real life tale of dreamer Walter who must enter reality and finally do something with his life is not as grand or wonderful as it thinks it is, scenes played out in Walter’s imagination are enjoyable yet slightly too silly (a scene with a Stretch Armstrong doll in particular) and the journey that Walter takes to discover the lost negative is rushed and almost as unbelievable as his dreams, giving off the sense of too much fantasy when we should be partaking in a reality based journey. The sense of playfulness is a major factor in the romance of Walter Mitty feeling unbelievable also.

Stiller and Wiig’s chemistry while not bad is not fully utilised in the film, with perhaps a mere 10 minutes or so screen time dedicated to establishing and growing a bond between Walter and Cheryl. Stiller spends to much time coming up with spectacle when an ace up his sleeve may have been more time spent in the real world letting the audience see and feel the love blossoming between the two lost souls. With a story that does not live up to it’s full potential the film does however showcase a talent Stiller has never shown before with a keen eye for detail, a well edited pace and perfectly chosen musical score all adding up to display that Stiller is more than a mere comedy director.

Walter Mitty is an enjoyable tale sure to please many both young and old, even though one feels that deep down there is a more profound and fully formed version that could of sprung to life. As a tale about finally doing not merely dreaming it’s a perfectly adequate movie with many a stunning image, an easy going atmosphere and the movie is hopefully a stepping stone for Stiller to tackle even more challenging material in the future and create a classic for the ages that he wanted to do with this movie.

3 and a half Stretch Armstrong’s out of 5

23 responses to “Film Review – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

  1. Good review Eddie. It’s actually not as bad as I thought it would have been. Stiller doesn’t do everything right, but he handles most of the material well-enough to where I can easily say I’m confident in his ability as a director.

    • It really does show he has a talent some of us probably didn’t think he had, it’s a very enjoyable flick that could be shown to anyone I believe. It seems general public really liking it do judging by IMDB.

  2. Good review. Have yet to go see Walter Mitty as I’ve been trying to see all of the other films out lately, just haven’t gotten the chance. Maybe a Blu-ray watch for me, but glad to know people like it!

  3. I’ve been meaning to watch this to see what the fuss is all about. I’m glad to read a down to earth review, because I’ve been hearing thriumphantly comments about this one! 🙂

    • I am surprised the difference between critics and audiences with this one. Down here in Australia it seems critics have been more easy with praising it than in the States and UK but audiences all over seem to be loving it.

  4. My whole family loved this movie- and we range in age quite a bit. I even liked Sean Penn in this movie, the first time I’ve ever liked him in any movie. Must be seen in the theatre as the scenicnature and foregn land displays were beautiful!

    • Great to hear about the family love for this film, it did seem to strike me as the tale that can be enjoyed by those who are young around 10 right through to the golden oldies. Agreed on the scenic and land displays in the film, never wanted to trek to Greenland before this flick.

  5. Here is a review I have been looking forward to. With so many working people fantasizing about a life changing journey, travels and what not this movie comes at a time most ripe. Bloggers especially fit perhaps the most in the genre of chuck the desk and drink opium with Nepali Sherpas and the like. So….. a rave would have been disappointing and intense criticism too harsh, a review like this is perhaps what will finally push me into seeing this.

  6. Ultimately I enjoyed this movie although the tone of the fantasy elements seemed totally at odds with the rest of the film. The Benjamin Button section in particular. It was as though Stiller was trying to move away from the broad humour of his other films but that side of him kept creeping back, Jekyl and Hyde style. Good review, mine is at: if you are interested in taking a look.

  7. I’m surprised you didn’t love it. Perhaps it was because I found Mitty’s persona so relatable, but I felt the film was almost asking me to take a step forward. If you haven’t check out my review and see if you can understand where I’m coming from.

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