Summary: A timid magazine photo manager who lives life vicariously through daydreams embarks on a true-life adventure when a negative goes missing.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Ben Stiller
Screenwriter: Steve Conrad, James Thurber (short story)
Cast: Marcus Antturi (Rich Melhoff), Jon Daly (Tim Naughton), Craig Dourmashkin (Curtis), Paul Fitzgerald (Don Proctor), Kathryn Hahn (Odessa Mitty), Terrence Bernie Hines (Gary Mannheim), Kai Lennox (Phil Melhoff), Shirley MacLaine (Edna Mitty), Adrian Martinez (Hernando), Nicole Neuman (Rachel), Conan O’Brien (himself), Patton Oswalt (Todd Maher), Sean Penn (Sean O’Connell), Andy Richter (himself), Adam Scott (Ted Hendricks), Ben Stiller (Walter Mitty), Kristen Wiig (Cheryl Melhoff)
Runtime: 114 mins
Please check Greg’s review of ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ that is available on www.filmreviews.net.au
Everybody knows Ben Stiller has one of modern days’ top comedic actors. What many don’t realise though is that whenever Stiller had decided to pull on the director’s cap that success has always followed. His debut directional effort ‘Reality Bites’ drew plenty of applause, while his follow ups ‘The Cable Guy,’ ‘Zoolander’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ were all massive commercial successes.
Now Stiller directrs and stars in the new screen adaption of James Thurber’s classic story ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.’ Now if you judged this film by its trailer you could see that this is a film that could go either way. It could fall in a heap and be a bore just like too many of Stiller’s recent films or it could be abstract and different enough to be interesting.
Stiller stars the downtrodden, lonely loser in life Walter Mitty. A man who has no personal life but lives for his job – a job that sees him looking after photographer’s negatives at ‘Life’ magazine. He also tends to ‘zone out’ from time to time and take himself on magical journeys that only occur inside his head. However, his life is turned upside down when he soon realises that job may be taken away from him when the ambitious and plain rude Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott) arrives on the scene boasting that ‘Life’ is about to go online and heads will roll. The way he bullies Walter also shows him that his will be one of those rolling heads.
Poor Walter believes his biggest problem is finding a way to impress his work colleague and love interest Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig) but soon finds himself under even more pressure when he realises that the negative that is needed for the front page of the last edition of ‘Life’ has gone missing. This spurs Walter into action and soon he finds himself on a trip around the world trying to find the photographer, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn).
Like ‘Reality Bites’ did early on his career ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ reveals Stiller as a talented director. His directional style takes this film in many different directions, from heartfelt conversations through to an action sequence (thanks to one of Walter’s zone-outs). But Stiller’s directional style really comes to the fore though when he captures some of the stunning environments that Walter visits amazingly well, and the same time lifts this above its closest rival ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’
As a film ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ really draws you in. You find yourself drawn to Walter as a character and you feel sorry for him. But as a film it goes deeper than that, the screenplay has created some interesting sub-characters including the hateable Hendricks and also eHarmony phone worker, Todd Maher (Patton Oswalt).
We all know somebody like Walter and that connection takes this film to a different level, however no matter how much human emotion is invested into the film there are times the film’s script lets it down. There are about fifteen to twenty minutes of this film that doesn’t need to be there, and it’s a shame that script editor hadn’t done a little bit of pruning.
Still that can be largely forgotten due to the fact that Stiller and his cinematographer create some amazing visuals throughout this film. They capture whatever environment they are in amazingly well, especially the barren volcanic wastelands that Stiller ends up skateboarding down. While the story does have its odd low point it clearly outguns the film most similar to it – “Eat Pray Love.”
The smooth screenplay does also allow Stiller to produce a mixture of comedy and drama and as we have learned from some of his previous roles Stiller thrives on getting to play emotionally damaged characters, and once again here he comes to the fore.
Kristen Wiig and Shirley Maclaine almost seem wasted in their roles however Patton Oswalt makes a surprising cameo that is a joy to watch but the actor who steals the show here is Adam Scott. Scott puts in one of the best performances of the year as the villainous Hendricks and while he is a source of comedic relief he also brings a sense of evil to the film.
“The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” may dip at one point but for the most part this is a good film that once again reminds cinema lovers that Ben Stiller is more than capable when he pulls on the director’s hat. As far as feel good movies go this one is a winner.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘American Hustle′: Please check our American Hustle review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep 62.
This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Nick, Adam, Dave and Greg take a look at new release films ‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’, ‘Drinking Buddies’, ‘Frozen’, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’, ‘Philomena’, ‘The Railway Man’, ‘The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty’ and ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’. This episode also features interviews with Ben Stiller, Judi Dench, Jonathan Groff, Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellan. The boys also launch a new competition thanks to The Electric Shadow Open Air Cinema.
Please note that Part 1 of the show will be placed online after the embargo has been lifted on our review of ‘Saving Mr Banks’. All other reviews can be heard on Part 2,3,4,5 though.
To listen to the show you can download it for free from our Podcast Channel – Listen/Download here